OLR Bill Analysis

SB 1502

Emergency Certification

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING PROVISIONS OF THE STATE BUDGET FOR THE BIENNIUM ENDING JUNE 30, 2017 CONCERNING GENERAL GOVERNMENT, EDUCATION AND HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.

SUMMARY:

A section-by-section analysis follows. See below.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below

1 - 39, 528, & 532 — CONNECTICUT PORT AUTHORITY

This bill establishes the quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority (authority) starting on July 1, 2015 instead of October 1, 2015, by replacing current law with a substantially similar law that takes effect three months earlier. It explicitly extends the authority's jurisdiction to cover state harbors as well as ports, and transfers authority over maritime and most harbor and port related laws from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to the authority as of July 1, 2016.

Among other things, the authority must:

1. coordinate port development, focusing on private and public investments;

2. pursue state and federal funds for dredging and other infrastructure improvements and maintain navigability of all ports and harbors;

3. work with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and state, local, and private entities to maximize the ports' and harbors' economic potential;

4. support and enhance the overall development of maritime commerce and industries; and

5. coordinate the state's maritime policy activities and serve as the governor's principal maritime policy advisor.

To help achieves those and other goals, the bill, among other things:

1. gives the authority bonding power;

2. authorizes it to enter a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DECD for administrative support and services and management and operational activities;

3. requires it to enter into at least one MOU with DOT to help effect the transition of ownership, jurisdiction and authority over the state's ports and harbors from that department,

4. allows the authority to hire employees who (a) must receive the same life insurance, health, and retirement benefits as state employees but (b) are not considered state employees for collective bargaining purposes; and

5. specifies that the authority, in performing an essential public function, is exempt from paying taxes or assessments on any property it acquires or uses or any income it derives from them.

The bill also transfers from DOT to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) the powers and duties of existing harbor boards and boards of harbor commissioners. The bill places harbor masters under the direction and control of DEEP, rather than DOT.

The bill eliminates the (a) Connecticut Maritime Commission, now in DOT, that, among other duties, supports the development of the state's deep water ports, on July 1, 2015 and (b) State Maritime Office, a DOT office responsible for maritime operations and staffing the commission, on July 1, 2016. It also terminates the Port Authority Working Group on July 1, 2015, instead of October 1, 2015.

The bill also makes other minor and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016, except provisions (1) creating the port authority and its board of directors, (2) authorizing an MOU with DECD, (3) requiring at least one MOU with DOT, (4) on the Port Authority working group, (5) eliminating the Connecticut Maritime Commission, and (6) making certain conforming changes, are effective July 1, 2015.

1, 2, 38, & 39 — Port Authority

Under current law and the bill, the authority is a body politic and corporate, a public instrumentality and political subdivision of the state, created to perform an essential public and governmental function. It is a quasi-public agency, not a state department, institution, or agency, and thus is subject to statutory procedural, operating, and reporting requirements for quasi-public agencies, including lobbying restrictions and an ethics code.

The authority continues as long as it has bonds or other outstanding obligations and until it is legally terminated, provided that no termination affects any of the authority's outstanding contractual obligations and the state succeeds to them. Upon termination, all of the authority's rights and properties pass to and become vested in the state.

The bill extends to the authority existing statutory requirements that, like other quasi-public agencies, it have the state treasurer's or deputy treasurer's approval for (1) borrowing or bonds secured by state-backed or -guaranteed capital reserve funds and (2) any investment or contract relating to interest rates, currency, or cash flow that subjects a state-backed capital reserve fund to potential liability ( 38).

It also includes the authority's directors and staff in the exemption from personal liability for quasi-public agency directors and staff for actions taken in issuing bonds, or for damages or injury caused in the performance of their duties and within the scope of employment, so long as the actions are not wanton, reckless, willful, or malicious ( 39).

Authority Purpose. Under the bill, the authority must:

1. coordinate port development, focusing on private and public investments;

2. pursue state and federal funds for dredging and other infrastructure improvements to (a) increase movement of cargo through the ports and (b) maintain navigability of all ports and harbors;

3. market port and harbor economic development and work with DECD and state, local, and private entities to maximize the ports' and harbors' economic potential;

4. support and enhance the overall development of maritime commerce and industries;

5. coordinate the planning and funding of capital projects promoting the development of ports and harbors;

6. develop strategic entrepreneurial initiatives that may be available to the state;

7. coordinate the state's maritime policy activities;

8. serve as the governor's principal maritime policy advisor; and

9. undertake other responsibilities assigned to it.

Authority Powers. The authority's powers and governance requirements summarized below are generally the same as under current law that takes effect October 1.

The authority may:

1. have perpetual succession and adopt bylaws;

2. adopt and modify an official seal;

3. maintain one or more offices;

4. sue and be sued in its own name;

5. develop an organizational and management structure to best achieve its goals;

6. create a code of conduct for board members consistent with applicable law;

7. adopt rules, which are not considered regulations and therefore exempt from the regulatory approval process, to conduct its business; and

8. adopt an annual budget and operating plan, including a requirement that the board approve the budget or plan before it takes effect.

The bill also allows the authority to (1) invest in, acquire, lease, purchase, own, manage, hold, and dispose of real property and (2) lease, convey, deal in, or enter into agreements with respect to the property on any terms necessary or incidental to carry out the authority's purpose. The transactions are not subject to approval, review, or regulation by any state agency under laws on the purchase, sale, or lease of state property, except the authority cannot convey fee simple ownership (full ownership) in land under its jurisdiction and control without approval from the State Properties Review Board and the attorney general.

Under the bill, the authority may employ assistants, agents, and other employees necessary or desirable to carry out its purposes, set their compensation, establish and modify personnel procedures, and negotiate and enter into collective bargaining agreements with labor unions. The authority's employees are exempt from the classified service and are not state employees for collective bargaining purposes. But the bill regards them as state employees for life insurance, health, and retirement benefits. It requires the authority to reimburse the appropriate state agencies for costs they incur because of this provision.

The authority may engage consultants, attorneys, and appraisers as necessary or desirable to carry out its purposes.

Board of Directors Duties. Under the bill, the board must:

1. develop and recommend to the governor and Transportation Committee a state maritime policy;

2. advise the governor and committee on the state's maritime policies and operations;

3. support the development of maritime commerce and industries, including state ports and harbors;

4. recommend investments and actions, including dredging, required to preserve and enhance maritime commerce and industries; and

5. conduct studies and present recommendations on maritime issues.

At least once a year, the board must hold a public hearing to evaluate the adequacy of the state's maritime policies, facilities, and support for maritime commerce and industry.

By January 1, 2017, and annually afterwards, the board of directors must submit a written report to the governor, and provide copies to the Transportation Committee, on:

1. a list of projects that would support the state's maritime polices and encourage maritime commerce and industry;

2. recommendations to improve existing maritime polices, programs and facilities; and

3. other appropriate recommendations.

Board Members. The authority is governed by a 15-member board of directors, each of whom is a voting member. Members include following state officials or their designees: the commissioners of DEEP, DOT, and DECD, the treasurer, and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) secretary, all of whom are ex-officio members. Four members are appointed by the governor, two for four-year terms and two for two-year terms. Legislative leaders appoint the remaining members, as follows: one each, for four-year terms, by the House speaker, Senate president pro tempore, and Senate minority leader; one each, for two-year terms, by the House majority and minority leaders, and the Senate majority leader. Successor members appointed by the governor and the legislative leaders serve four-year terms, starting on July 1 in the year of their appointment.

The appointees must include:

1. individuals with experience or expertise in at least one of the following: (a) international trade, (b) marine transportation, (c) finance, or (d) economic development;

2. a member or employee of a local port authority;

3. an elected or appointed municipal official from a coastal municipality with a population of 100,000 or less; and

4. an elected or appointed municipal official from a coastal municipality with a population of 50,000 or less.

Eight directors comprise a quorum to transact business or exercise power. The board may act by a majority of the directors present at any meeting at which there is a quorum, except as the bill provides. The board may delegate to eight or more directors necessary and proper powers and duties under the bill and the board's by-laws.

Appointed board members cannot designate someone to perform their duties in their absence. An appointee who fails to attend three consecutive meetings or half of all meetings held in a calendar year is deemed to have resigned from the board. Any vacancy that occurs other than by a term's expiration must be filled within 30 days, in the same way as the original appointment, for the remainder of the term.

Board Officers. The board selects a chairperson, vice-chairperson, and other officers it believes necessary from its members. The chairperson serves a four-year term.

The initial board members may begin serving immediately on appointment, but cannot serve beyond the sixth Wednesday of the next regular legislative session unless confirmed by the legislature according to law. All subsequent appointments must be made with legislative advice and consent according to law.

Reimbursement and Conflicts of Interest. Directors serve without compensation, but are reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred performing their duties. They may be privately employed, or in a profession or business, subject to state ethics and conflict of interest laws, rules, and regulations. However, regardless of the law, it is not a conflict of interest for a trustee, director, partner, or officer of any person, firm, or corporation, or any person with a financial interest in the person, firm, or corporation, to serve as a director, provided he or she complies with applicable state ethics laws.

Removal of Board Members. An appointing authority may remove a board member for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct in office. Before doing so, the appointing authority must give the director a copy of the charges against him or her and an opportunity for a hearing, to be held at least 10 days after notice, where the director may respond personally or through an attorney. When a director is removed, the appointing authority must file with the secretary of the state (1) a complete statement of the charges against the director, (2) the appointing authority's findings on the charges, and (3) a complete record of the proceedings.

Executive Director. The board appoints an executive director as the authority's chief administrative officer. The executive director (1) receives compensation set by the board, (2) serves at the board's pleasure, (3) cannot be a board member, and (4) is exempt from classified service.

The executive director directs and supervises administrative affairs and technical activities at the board's direction. He or she must approve all salaries, allowable expenses for the authority and its employees and consultants, and incidental authority expenses.

The executive director must attend all board meetings; keep a record of authority proceedings; and maintain and have custody of all books, documents, and papers filed with the authority, and the authority's minutes or journal and its official seal. He or she may have copies made of the authority's minutes, records, and other documents, and may use the seal to certify them as true copies on which people may rely. The executive director must perform other duties as the board directs.

Reporting Requirements. The board must report annually, by December 15, on its (1) activities, (2) operating and financial statements, and (3) legislative recommendations, to the governor and the Commerce, Environment, and Transportation committees.

It must also submit to the Appropriations, Commerce, Environment, and Transportation committees a copy of each authority audit conducted by an independent auditing firm within seven days after the board receives it.

3-6 — Bonding Authority

The bill authorizes the authority to issue bonds to carry out its responsibilities, which include renovations and improvements at state ports.

The authority can issue bonds to finance (1) general improvements and back them with some or all of its revenue from the ports or (2) a specific improvement and back them only with the revenue the improvement generates. It may seek the treasurer's help in issuing the bonds and appoint a committee or individual as the board's delegate in connection with their issuance.

The authority must repay the bonds no later than 30 years after issuing them.

It may use the proceeds from the bond sales for:

1. paying labor and material costs related to construction at the state ports;

2. acquiring, including by condemnation, land, property rights, rights-of-way, franchises, easements, and other interests in land in connection with the construction or operating costs;

3. machinery and equipment costs;

4. creating reserves to pay principal and interest that accrues during renovation and construction work at the ports and for six months after completion;

5. initial working capital, administrative expenses, and legal, architectural, and engineering expenses and fees;

6. the costs of audits and preparing and issuing the notes and bonds; and

7. all other items incident to the planning, acquisition, and construction of the ports or the start of their operation.

The bonds do not count toward the state's bond cap, and only the authority is liable for them. The bill generally exempts the state, municipalities, and other political subdivisions from any obligation to repay the bonds. It exempts the principal and interest payments to the bondholders from all state and local taxes except the estate and gift tax, but requires the inclusion of the interest payments when calculating excise and franchise taxes.

The bill allows the authority to determine how it will issue and repay the bonds and specifies the kinds of terms and conditions it may include in its agreements with bondholders. It also declares the bonds negotiable instruments under the Uniform Commercial Code subject only to their registration requirements. The bill makes the bonds securities in which governments and private entities may invest. The authority may sell the bonds, at a price and time it chooses, (1) at a public sale on sealed proposals or (2) by negotiating with investors.

The bill authorizes or requires several actions to assure bondholders that the authority will repay them, including securing the bonds' principal and interest by a mortgage covering all or part of a project. It specifies that the state will not limit or alter the authority's rights until the authority repays its outstanding bonds. It authorizes the authority to create one or more special capital reserve funds to finance a project or refund bonds previously issued by the authority or state to fund a project. The total amount of bonds secured by the funds cannot exceed $50 million. It also appropriates from the General Fund any amount needed to maintain these special capital reserves at the required minimum level. These funds must be appropriated as needed annually by December 1. The authority's chairperson or vice chairperson must certify the amount to the treasurer and the OPM secretary.

The bill also allows the authority to secure that pledge by entering into an agreement with a trustee representing the bondholders' interests (i.e., trust of indenture). Under the bill, the authority may secure principal and interest payments by pledging its revenue, which is also immediately subject to lien without any action on the bondholders' part.

The bill allows the authority to issue bonds to refund outstanding bonds and specifies conditions for doing so. It also allows the authority to use its funds to purchase its bonds and those of the state and dispose of the bonds as the bond agreements allow.

7 — Tax Exemption and Pilot Program

The bill specifies that the authority, in performing an essential public function, is exempt from paying taxes or assessments on any property it acquires or uses or any income it derives from them. Prior to June 30, 2018, the bill deems authority-owned property and facilities state-owned real property for the purposes of the state's Payment-In Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILOT) program, under which the state provides grants to municipalities in place of the taxes that would otherwise be paid on authority-owned property and facilities.

8 — Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DECD

The bill allows DECD and the authority to enter into an MOU under which (1) DECD provides administrative support and services, including all staff support necessary for the authority's operation, and (2) management and operational activities are addressed, including:

1. joint procurement and contracting;

2. sharing services and resources;

3. coordinating promotional activities; and

4. other arrangements to enhance revenues, reduce operating costs, or achieve operating efficiencies.

The MOU's terms and conditions, including provisions on reimbursement of DECD by the authority for administrative support and services, must be as DECD and the authority determine are appropriate. The MOU must terminate by June 30, 2018.

9 — MOUs with DOT

The bill requires the authority to enter into MOUs with DOT to help (1) the authority govern the state's ports and harbors and (2) effect the transition of ownership, jurisdiction and authority over the ports and harbors from DOT. The MOUs must include the:

1. assets, funds, accounts, contracts and liabilities, and powers and duties associated with the ports and harbors that will be transferred to the authority by deed, lease, management contract, agency agreement, assignment, or assumption, and the manner of the transfer;

2. time or times the transfers will take effect; and

3. reimbursement to the state for the services provided under any MOU.

The MOUs must provide for the lease, assignment, or transfer of ownership, jurisdiction, or authority to control the ports. The authority must periodically advise DOT of its readiness to accept any lease, assignment, or transfer according to any MOU and these must not be unreasonably delayed or withheld. If any bonds or other obligations issued for port or harbor projects or purposes remain outstanding, the treasurer must also be party to the MOU. Once a power, duty, asset, fund or account, contract or liability is transferred to the authority, DOT cannot afterward exercise the power, perform the duty, or act with respect to the asset, fund or account, contract or liability.

When implementing an MOU, the authority must comply with existing contracts, bonds, or obligations. The authority may, with the treasurer's consent and approval, assume state obligations for port-related projects or purposes relating to ports and harbors that remain outstanding, and indemnify and release the state from all liability and expenses related to those obligations. An assumption by the authority and release of the state is subject to the terms of any indenture and State Bond Commission approval.

The authority must do everything required by applicable federal and state laws, regulations, rules, or relevant contracts to effect the lease, assignment, or transfer of ownership, jurisdiction, or authority to control, operate, and maintain the ports and harbors in the authority's best interests. DOT cannot be paid for any leases, assignments, and transfers. The authority must periodically notify DOT of its readiness to accept the leases, assignments, and transfers with respect to the ports and harbors, and must execute the necessary documents and contracts.

10 &11 — Port Authority Working Group

PA 14-222, the act that established the port authority slated to take effect October 1, 2015, also created a working group, whose members include the DECD commissioner and the treasurer, or their designees, to prepare and submit recommendations to DECD on the authority board's powers and duties. By law, the working group terminates on October 1, 2015. Under the bill, the working group terminates on July 1, 2015. No further action of the DECD commissioner is needed on and after that date.

12 & 18-21 — Harbors and Harbor Masters

The bill transfers jurisdiction over state harbors from the DOT commissioner to the authority. But it transfers from DOT to DEEP the powers and duties of existing harbor boards and boards of harbor commissioners. It allows these boards, as they now do with the DOT commissioner, to advise DEEP and perform the duties the DEEP commissioner delegates to them.

Harbor masters, appointed by the governor, have general care and supervision of the harbors and navigable waterways over which they have jurisdiction. The bill places harbor masters under the direction and control of DEEP, rather than DOT. It also requires DEEP to adopt regulations on the procedure for handling violations of a harbor master's order.

13 — Acquisition and Disposition of Property

The bill authorizes both the authority and the DOT commissioner, instead of just the commissioner, to acquire, build, maintain, own, or operate, on behalf of the state, at or near the seaboard or any navigable waterway, land, or any harbor, wharf, dock, pier, quay, canal, slip or basin, or any appropriate harbor facility, shed, warehouse, vault, railroad track, yard, terminal, equipment, or other facility related to transporting goods or people by water, as the authority or commissioner deems necessary. It correspondingly repeals a law allowing the DOT commissioner to sell excess land or rights in it.

The bill authorizes the commissioner or authority, as appropriate, instead of just the commissioner, to confer concessions privileges. But the commissioner retains the power to lease or grant any interest at the State Pier in New London with approval from the State Properties Review Board, OPM, and the attorney general.

14-17 — Harbor Improvement Projects

Under current law, the DOT commissioner may initiate harbor improvement projects. Starting July, 1, 2016, the bill authorizes the (1) authority to initiate harbor improvement projects and (2) executive director to recommend these projects to the authority's board. It requires the authority to (1) contract for the provision of goods and services, (2) enter into agreements with other state agencies to provide funding, and (3) administer contracts.

It authorizes the authority, rather than the DOT commissioner, to spend funds in the harbor improvement account to initiate harbor improvement projects, and requires harbor improvement agencies to submit an approved harbor improvement plan to the authority, and, as under current law, the DEEP commissioner. And, it authorizes the authority, instead of DOT, to contract with a municipality, or federal or state agency for state financial assistance for harbor improvement projects.

22-28 — Marine Pilots

Starting July 1, 2016, the bill transfers, from the DOT commissioner to the authority, licensing and regulation of marine pilots.

The bill also moves the Connecticut Pilot Commission from DOT to the authority ( 23); requires the authority to set pilotage rates ( 24); and authorizes the authority to execute agreements with other states for a marine pilot rotation system in state waters, including Long Island Sound ( 27).

It deems existing DOT regulations on, among other things, pilots' conduct and duties ( 25), and vessel operation and equipment ( 28) duly adopted written procedures of the authority, effective July 1, 2016. After that date, any modifications or additions to the written procedures must be adopted by the authority according to state law.

Also starting July 1, 2016, the bill creates an alternative path for applicants to get marine pilot licenses. Current law requires applicants for a pilot's license for any state port or waterway, including the Connecticut waters of Long Island Sound, to have a certain number of passages on ocean-going vessels of at least 4,000 gross tons during the 36 months before they apply ( 22).

The bill adds an alternative “extension of route” in which an applicant currently licensed by the authority (and presumably, for pilots licensed before July 1, 2016, by DOT) for eastern Long Island Sound and at least one of the ports of Bridgeport, New Haven, or New London may obtain a license for state waters, including the Connecticut waters of the Sound.

In such a case, the applicant (1) must have obtained a federal first class pilot's license of unlimited tonnage issued by the U.S. Coast Guard covering Connecticut waters, including the Sound, for which the individual has applied for an extension of route, and (2) can document that, within the 36 months immediately preceding his or her application, the applicant has made six round trips through the port or waterway for which he or she is applying. He or she must have done so as an observing pilot on vessels under enrollment or register subject to state compulsory pilotage laws, during which time the applicant piloted the vessel under the supervision and authority of a state-licensed pilot. It also makes conforming changes.

29-35 — Transfers of Responsibility

By law, the DEEP commissioner, in consultation with the public health commissioner, may enter into agreements with other states or the federal government on matters related to flood control, navigation, and harbor improvement, among other things. Current law requires the DEEP commissioner to request from, and consider recommendations of, the DOT commissioner on river, harbor, and navigability matters. The bill allows, rather than requires, the DEEP commissioner to request and consider recommendations of the DOT commissioner and the authority on these matters ( 32).

The bill also:

1. subjects people to fines of up to $1,000 for removing, damaging, or destroying buoys, beacons, and channel markers or floating guides the state, instead of DOT, has placed in state waters in the proper exercise of its authority ( 29);

2. makes it the responsibility of the DEEP commissioner, rather than the DOT commissioner, to determine if there are structural hazards in tidal and state waters and order them removed or dismantled ( 30);

3. requires a harbor management commission to consult with the authority when preparing or causing to be prepared a management plan for the most desirable harbor use. It continues to require such a commission to consult with DEEP when preparing such a plan, and eliminates a requirement it also consult with DOT. It requires the plan to be submitted for approval to both DEEP and the authority, allows it to be adopted if both approve it. It requires both DEEP and the authority to annually review the plan ( 31);

4. requires the DEEP commissioner to consult with the authority, rather than the DOT commissioner when considering encroachments in tidal, coastal, or navigable waters ( 34); and

5. requires the DEEP commissioner to notify the authority in writing, rather than the DOT commissioner, when (1) designating or laying out channels and boat basins in tidal and coastal waters ( 33) and (2) if appropriate, considering whether to issue a permit for dredging or other such work in state waters ( 35).

36-39, 528, & 532 — Conforming Language and Repealer Provisions

The bill makes several conforming changes based on its earlier effective date for establishing the authority. It eliminates the Connecticut Maritime Commission on July 1, 2015 and the State Maritime Office on July 1, 2016.

Connecticut Maritime Commission. By law, among other things, the commission:

1. advises the governor, DOT commissioner, and legislature on state maritime policy and operations;

2. develops and recommends a state maritime policy;

3. supports the development of the state's maritime commerce and industries, including its deep water ports; and

4. supports the development of the ports, including identifying new opportunities, analyzing the potential for and encouraging private investment, and recommending policies that support port operations.

The commission is part of DOT (CGS 13b-51a).

State Maritime Office. This DOT office is responsible for such things as:

1. maritime operations, including the State Pier in New London and the Connecticut River ferries;

2. serving as the governor's principal maritime policy advisor; and

3. staffing the Connecticut Maritime Commission (CGS 13b-51b).

40 — USING SPECIAL TRANSPORTATION FUND MONEY FOR CERTAIN DEEP AND DSS ACTIVITIES

This bill requires Special Transportation Fund money to be appropriated to pay for (1) boating regulation and enforcement by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and (2) the Department of Social Services' transportation for employment independence program.

As under current law, money in the fund must be used first for debt service on special tax obligation bonds and to pay for certain transportation projects. The remaining funds must be spent to pay general obligation bonds issued for transportation projects and budget appropriations for the departments of transportation and motor vehicles.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2016

41 — COMMUNITY INVESTMENT ACCOUNT (CIA) FUNDS FOR CONNECTICUT TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

The bill increases, from $200,000 to $380,000, the amount of CIA funds that DECD must distribute to the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation from its CIA portion.

By law, the CIA contains land use document recording fees town clerks remit to the state treasurer. Money from the account is distributed quarterly to the agriculture sustainability account for milk producer grants and to the departments of (1) Economic and Community Development, for certain historic preservation purposes; (2) Housing, for affordable housing programs; (3) Energy and Environmental Protection, for municipal open space grants; and (4) Agriculture, for various agricultural and farmland preservation purposes. Additionally, from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, PA 15-244, diverts to the General Fund, on a quarterly basis, 50% of the funds deposited in the CIA.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

42 — FIRST FIVE PLUS EXTENSION

This bill extends the sunset date for the first five plus economic development program by one year, from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2016 and makes a conforming change. Under the program, the economic development commissioner can provide loans, tax incentives, and other forms of economic development assistance to businesses committing to create jobs and invest capital within the law's timeframes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

43-46 — INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CERTAIN CONDITIONS

PA 15-226 expands the services certain health insurance policies must cover for mental and nervous conditions. The bill delays, from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017, the requirement to cover the following four services required by the act:

1. intensive, family- and community-based treatment programs that focus on environmental systems impacting chronic and violent juvenile offenders;

2. other home-based therapeutic interventions for children;

3. chemical maintenance treatment (i.e., when a person is admitted for the planned use of a prescribed substance under medical supervision); and

4. extended day treatment programs for emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, behaviorally disordered, or multiply handicapped children and youth.

The bill applies to individual and group health insurance policies issued, delivered, renewed, amended, or continued in Connecticut that cover (1) basic hospital expenses, (2) basic medical-surgical expenses, (3) major medical expenses, or (4) hospital or medical services, including those provided through an HMO. Due to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, state insurance mandates do not apply to self-insured benefit plans.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2016 for the provisions removing required coverage, and January 1, 2017 for the provisions reenacting them.

47 — DEEDS FOR PROPERTIES SOLD AT A TAX SALE

PA 15-156, among other things, requires a deed for a property sold at a tax sale (i.e., tax collector's deed) to specify that the property may be encumbered by municipal and state liens. The bill eliminates the requirement that the deed specify that the property may be subject to state liens.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

48-49 & 527 — CONTINGENCY ACCOUNT

The bill eliminates a requirement that the budget the governor submits to the legislature include a recommended appropriation for contingencies of up to $100,000 in each fiscal year. Under current law, the governor may approve expenditures from the contingency appropriation whenever an emergency exists and he determines that a budgeted agency's needs warrant an increased appropriation, or that emergency expenditures are necessary.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

50 — MICROBEADS

The bill phases in bans on manufacturing for sale, importing, selling, or offering for sale personal care products and over-the-counter drugs with intentionally added synthetic solid plastic particles of five millimeters or less in size that are (1) used to exfoliate or cleanse and (2) intended to be rinsed or washed off the body and deposited into a sink, shower, or bathtub drain (i.e., microbeads).

The bill applies to:

1. products, or their components, intended for rubbing, pouring, sprinkling, spraying on, introducing into, or applying to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering its appearance (“personal care products”) and

2. personal care products with labels required by federal regulation identifying them as drugs (“over-the-counter drugs”).

It excludes products the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner determines need a prescription to distribute or dispense.

Phased-in Bans

Personal care products. The bill prohibits, beginning December 31, 2017, manufacturing for sale in Connecticut personal care products with microbeads. And, starting December 31, 2018, it bans importing, selling, or offering them for sale.

But if the microbead study described below is not completed by its due date of December 15, 2017, the bans both take effect on July 1, 2018.

Over-the-counter drugs. Beginning December 31, 2018, the bill prohibits manufacturing for sale in Connecticut over-the-counter drugs with microbeads. And beginning December 31, 2019, it prohibits importing, selling, or offering them for sale.

Regulations

The bill allows the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations, in consultation with the DCP commissioner, to implement the bill's provisions.

Penalties

Violators of the bans or related DEEP regulations are subject to fines of up to (1) $5,000 for a first violation and (2) $10,000 for subsequent violations.

Biodegradable Microbeads Study

By August 15, 2016, the DEEP commissioner must accept an application on behalf of a personal care product manufacturer, for a study, at the commissioner's request, by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). The study must determine whether a biodegradable microbead is available to use in personal care products that does not adversely impact the environment or publicly owned treatment works in the state.

Under the bill, the application must (1) require the microbead manufacturer to disclose the biodegradable microbead's chemical parts or composition and (2) be in a form the commissioner prescribes.

The bill requires the commissioner to ask CASE to perform the study once he receives the application. CASE may establish a fee for doing so, which the manufacturer must pay through DEEP.

After receiving the request and fee from the commissioner, CASE must begin the study, which must include:

1. a CASE-appointed study committee to oversee it;

2. use of a CASE-selected research team with biodegradable microbead expertise to conduct relevant research and author the study report; and

3. study committee meetings that allow the applicant, DEEP, and interested people to obtain information about the study.

Under the bill, CASE must complete the study and issue a final study report to the commissioner by December 15, 2017. The commissioner must review the final report and forward it, and any of CASE's legislative recommendations, to the Environment Committee by February 1, 2018.

The bill exempts from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, any study related-information or materials submitted by an applicant to DEEP or CASE that the applicant indicates is a trade secret or privileged at the time of submission.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

51 — GROUP-WIDE SUPERVISOR FOR INTERNATIONALLY ACTIVE INSURANCE GROUPS

The bill requires the insurance commissioner to select a group-wide supervisor for certain internationally active insurance groups that are also active in Connecticut. She must do this in cooperation with regulatory officials in other jurisdictions (state, federal, or international) where members of the insurance group are domiciled. The group-wide supervisor must be the commissioner or one of the other regulatory officials. The bill specifies the (1) factors the commissioner must consider when selecting a group-wide supervisor and (2) commissioner's powers and responsibilities when selected to serve in that capacity. It allows the commissioner to adopt regulations to implement its provisions.

By law, an insurance company authorized to do business in Connecticut that is in a group of two or more affiliates (i.e., an insurance holding company system) must register with the Insurance Department. Under the bill, each registered company must pay for the department's reasonable expenses incurred in administering the bill's group-wide supervisor provisions. These include retaining attorneys, actuaries, and other professionals, and reasonable travel expenses.

Definitions

Under the bill, a “group-wide supervisor” is the regulatory official authorized by his or her jurisdiction to conduct and coordinate group- wide supervisory activities and determined or acknowledged to be the group-wide supervisor of an internationally active insurance group.

An “internationally active insurance group” is an insurance holding company system that (1) includes an insurance company registered in Connecticut as a member of a holding company system and (2) has (a) written premiums in at least three countries with at least 10% of the gross written premiums from outside of the United States and (b) based on a three-year rolling average, total assets of at least $50 billion or total gross written premiums of at least $10 billion.

Determining or Acknowledging the Group-wide Supervisor

Under the bill, the commissioner may determine that she is the appropriate group-wide supervisor for an internationally active insurance group that conducts substantial insurance business operations in Connecticut.

Alternatively, she may acknowledge that the regulatory official of another jurisdiction is the appropriate group-wide supervisor for an internationally active insurance group that (1) does not conduct substantial insurance business in the United States or (2) conducts substantial insurance business in the United States but not in Connecticut. She may also acknowledge a regulatory official of another jurisdiction as group-wide supervisor if the insurance group conducts substantial insurance business in the United States and in Connecticut when she determines that the other official is the appropriate group-wide supervisor.

Under the bill, an insurance holding company system that does not qualify as an internationally active insurance group may also request the commissioner to determine or acknowledge a group-wide supervisor.

When another jurisdiction's regulatory official is acting as the group-wide supervisor, the bill requires the commissioner to acknowledge him or her as such. But the commissioner must determine or acknowledge a group-wide supervisor for the insurance group when a material change in the group results in (1) the largest share of the group's premiums, assets, or liabilities being held by member companies domiciled in Connecticut or (2) Connecticut being the domicile of the top-tiered insurance company or companies in the group. (In industry practice, a top-tiered company refers to the company at the top of the holding company system.)

The bill allows a regulatory official determined or acknowledged to be the group-wide supervisor to determine that it is appropriate to acknowledge another regulatory official to serve as the group-wide supervisor. He or she must consider the same factors the commissioner considers when determining who should be the group-wide supervisor (see below). The acknowledgment must be made in (1) cooperation with, and subject to the acknowledgement of, other regulatory officials of the jurisdictions where the insurance group's member companies are domiciled and (2) consultation with the insurance group.

Factors to Consider

When determining who should be the group-wide supervisor, the commissioner must consider:

1. the domicile of the insurance group's member companies that hold the largest share of the group's premiums, assets, or liabilities;

2. the domicile of the insurance group's top-tiered insurance company or companies;

3. the locations of the insurance group's executive offices or largest operational offices; and

4. whether the regulatory official of another jurisdiction who is or is seeking to be the group-wide supervisor (a) is operating under a regulatory system the commissioner considers substantially similar to that provided under Connecticut law or is otherwise sufficient in terms of group-wide supervision, enterprise risk analysis, and cooperation with other regulatory officials and (b) provides the commissioner with reasonably reciprocal recognition and cooperation.

Notice of Determination or Acknowledgment

Before issuing a determination or acknowledgment, the commissioner must notify the member insurance company registered in Connecticut and person who ultimately controls the internationally active insurance group of the pending decision. She must give the insurance group at least 30 days to submit additional information pertinent to the decision.

The bill requires the commissioner to publish in the Connecticut Law Journal a current list of internationally active insurance groups for which she has determined herself to be the group-wide supervisor. She must also post the list on the Insurance Department's website.

Information Collection

By law, the commissioner may order insurance companies to produce records, books, or other information in the possession of the company or its affiliates as are reasonably necessary to determine compliance with the holding company requirements. Under the bill, she may also collect, from any insurance company registered in Connecticut, any information she needs to determine or acknowledge who should be the group-wide supervisor of an internationally active insurance group. By law, if a company fails to comply with such an order, the commissioner may examine any affiliate to obtain the information (CGS 38a-14a).

Activities Authorized

The bill authorizes the commissioner to conduct and coordinate the following activities for an internationally active insurance group she supervises:

1. assess the enterprise risks within the group to ensure (a) management identifies the material financial conditions of, and liquidity risks to, the group's member insurance companies and (b) reasonable and effective mitigation measures are in place;

2. request from the group's member companies information needed and appropriate to assess enterprise risk, such as information about governance, risk assessment and management, capital adequacy, and material intercompany transactions;

3. coordinate and, through the authority of the regulatory officials where the group's member companies are domiciled, compel companies to develop and implement reasonable measures designed to ensure the group can timely recognize and mitigate material enterprise risks;

4. through a supervisory college (a group of insurance regulatory officials) communicate with the regulatory agencies where the group's member companies are domiciled and share relevant information subject to state law's confidentiality provisions; and

5. enter into agreements with, or obtain documentation from, any Connecticut-registered insurance company, any other member of the internationally active insurance group, and any other regulatory agencies where the group's member companies are domiciled, to establish or clarify the commissioner's role as group-wide supervisor, including dispute resolution provisions.

Such agreements or documentation cannot serve as evidence that a company or person within an insurance company holding system not domiciled or incorporated in Connecticut is doing business here or is otherwise subject to Connecticut's jurisdiction.

In addition, the commissioner may conduct and coordinate other activities needed to effectuate the bill's purposes.

Cooperating through Supervisory Colleges

Under the bill, if the commissioner acknowledges that a regulatory official of a jurisdiction not accredited by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is the group-wide supervisor of an internationally active insurance group, she must reasonably cooperate through a supervisory college or otherwise with the group supervision that supervisor undertakes. But this cooperation must comply with Connecticut law and the group-wide supervisor must recognize and cooperate with the commissioner's activities as a group-wide supervisor for other internationally active insurance groups.

The commissioner may refuse to cooperate if she determines the recognition and cooperation are not reasonably reciprocated. She may enter into agreements with, or obtain documentation from, any Connecticut-registered insurance company, any of its affiliates, and any regulatory official of another jurisdiction where the group's member companies are domiciled, to establish or clarify that official's role as group-wide supervisor.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

52 — WORKERS' COMPENSATION APPROVED PROVIDER LISTS

The law allows an employer to require its injured employees to receive their workers' compensation-related medical treatment from a list of approved medical care providers. The bill requires an employer who uses such a list to provide a copy of it to an injured employee within two business days after he or she reports a work-related injury or condition to the employer.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

53-55 — BIOSCIENCE INNOVATION FUND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS

This bill allows Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (CI) to use Bioscience Innovation Fund money to pay for its administrative costs, including peer review costs, professional fees, allocated staff costs, and other out-of-pocket costs related to administering and operating the fund.

Under the bill, CI may use no more than 5% of the total amount allotted for the year in the fund's operating budget to pay for its administrative costs, and expenditures from the fund for administrative costs do not have to be approved by the fund's advisory committee. The bill also specifies that it does not require CI to risk or spend CI's funds to administer the Bioscience Innovation Fund.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage of 5 of PA 15-222 (PA 15-222 will become effective when the governor signs the bill or allows it to become law without his signature.)

56 — IDENTIFICATION VERIFICATION FOR UTILITIES

Under the bill, public service companies (i.e., utilities) that require a potential customer to disclose his or her Social Security number (SSN) must verify the SSN before opening a new account to ensure that it does not belong to a minor (i.e., someone under the age of 18). The bill requires public service companies to cross reference the provided number with the customer's (1) legal name, (2) aliases, (3) date of birth, (4) current address, and (5) phone number. Under the bill, the public service company may use a third-party company to verify this information.

The bill also makes minors immune from liability for payment of an unpaid bill to a public service company for services an adult obtained by fraudulently using the minor's SSN.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

57 — NOTICE OF FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM IN LEASES

This bill requires landlords to include notices in leases disclosing whether dwelling units they rent have working fire sprinkler systems. If a unit has a working system, the lease must also include a notice indicating the date of its last maintenance and inspection. Both notices must be printed in 12-point, boldface, uniform font.

The bill defines “fire sprinkler system” as a system of piping and appurtenances designed and installed according to generally accepted standards so that heat from a fire automatically causes water to discharge over the area, extinguishing the fire or preventing it from spreading.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

58-71 & 88 — SET-ASIDE REQUIREMENTS AND CHRO ENFORCEMENT

The bill subjects certain public works contracts awarded by municipalities to state set-aside requirements for small and minority contractors. It similarly applies these requirements to projects administered by certain entities receiving state assistance from quasi-public agencies. The bill subjects contractors awarded such contracts to, among other things, (1) existing law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements and (2) CHRO's enforcement authority.

58, 59, & 88 — Set-Aside Contracts

The state set-aside program requires state agencies and political subdivisions (other than municipalities, under current law) to set aside 25% of the total value of all contracts they let for construction, goods, and services each year for exclusive bidding by certified small contractors (SBE). The agencies must further reserve 25% of the set-aside value (6.25% of the total) for exclusive bidding by certified minority business enterprises (MBE) (see BACKGROUND). The bill requires contractors awarded “municipal public works contracts” or contracts for “quasi-public agency projects” to comply with these requirements if the total contract value exceeds $50,000.

Beginning October 1, 2015, a municipality that awards a municipal public works contract must state in its notice of solicitation for competitive bids, or request for proposals or qualifications, that the general or trade contractor must comply with the above set-aside requirements and the law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements (see below). The bill specifies that these requirements do not apply to municipalities that have set-aside programs under which the MBE set-aside equals or exceeds 6.25% (i.e., Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven).

Beginning October 1, 2015, the bill similarly requires any individual, firm, or corporation entering into a quasi-public agency project contract to notify the contractor, before awarding the contract, of the above set-aside requirements and the law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements.

A “municipality” is any town, city, borough, consolidated town and city, or consolidated town and borough. A “municipal public works contract” is the portion of an agreement entered into on or after October 1, 2015 between a municipality and any individual, firm, or corporation for constructing, rehabilitating, converting, extending, demolishing, or repairing a public building or highway, or other changes or improvements in real property. These contracts exclude alliance district projects that are financed with state funding of $50,000 or less. (Alliance districts are the 30 school districts in the state with the lowest district performance index, which is a weighted measure of student mastery test scores by district.)

A “quasi-public agency project” is the construction, rehabilitation, conversion, extension, demolition, or repair of a building, or other changes or improvements in real property, pursuant to a contract entered into on or after October 1, 2015, and financed in whole or in part by a quasi-public agency using state funds. State funds include matching expenditures, grants, loans, insurance, or guarantees.

61 — Set-Aside Goals

By law, state agencies and political subdivisions other than municipalities must annually notify the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) commissioner of their SBE and MBE set-aside goals for the current fiscal year. The bill moves the annual reporting date from August 30 to August 1. It specifies that municipal public works and quasi-public agency project contracts are not subject to this reporting requirement.

62 — Program Administration

By law, DAS is responsible for administering the set-aside program for public works contracts and state contracts for goods and services. The bill (1) makes the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) responsible for program administration with respect to municipal public works and quasi-public agency project contracts, including providing training sessions and (2) allows the commission to adopt regulations to implement the program's requirements.

The bill specifies that public works contracts awarded by a quasi-public agency itself (rather than an entity receiving state funds from a quasi-public agency) are subject to the requirements that apply to state agency public works contracts (e.g., such contracts are subject to the above goal requirements).

63 & 64 — Nondiscrimination Requirements

Under existing law, all contractors that enter into contracts with the state or one of its political subdivisions, other than a municipality, must file a representation or documentation with the contracting agency indicating they comply with state anti-discrimination laws. The bill extends this requirement to contractors who enter into municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contracts, except that it requires these contractors to file the representation or documentation with CHRO, rather than the contracting agency. It prohibits municipalities and entities from awarding contracts to contractors that have not provided the representation or documentation.

The bill also extends to these contractors requirements that they, among other things, (1) state that in their job advertisements that they are “affirmative action-equal opportunity employers,” (2) comply with nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements and orders issued by CHRO, and (3) provide CHRO with access to certain employment practice records.

The contractors must also agree and warrant that they will make good faith efforts to employ MBEs as subcontractors and materials suppliers. The contractors must include these provisions in every subcontract entered into to fulfill any obligation of a municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contract.

Under current law, these requirements do not apply to contracts where each contractor is a political subdivision of the state. The bill instead applies the requirements to contracts between political subdivisions that are (1) municipal public works contracts or (2) quasi-public agency project contracts.

65 — Minority Business Enterprise Review Committee

The bill requires the Minority Business Enterprise Review Committee to conduct an ongoing study of municipal public works contracts and contracts for quasi-public agency projects. It allows the committee to request information from CHRO on contractors' compliance with the nondiscrimination provisions described above. Under existing law, the committee has these duties and authority with respect to state agencies.

66-68 — Affirmative Action Requirements

Under existing law, the successful bidder for a public works contract awarded by a state agency or political subdivision, other than a municipality, for more than $500,000 and paid for in whole or in part with state funds must file with and obtain CHRO's approval for an affirmative action plan before the contract is awarded. The bill extends this requirement to bidders for municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contracts that meet these criteria. It also extends to the municipality or entity a requirement to withhold 2% of the total contract price per month from a contractor that does not have an approved affirmative action plan.

Under existing law, if a contractor is not subject to the above filing requirement, it still must file an affirmative action plan with CHRO if it (1) has 50 or more employees and (2) is awarded a public works contract by a state agency or political subdivision other than a municipality for more than $50,000. (However, the plan does not need to be filed before the contract is awarded.) The bill also extends this requirement to such contractors that enter into municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contracts exceeding the $50,000 threshold.

70 — Municipal Contract Compliance Programs

The bill allows CHRO to permit a municipality to use its own contract compliance program if the commission determines that the municipality's program is at least equivalent to existing law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements. A contractor that enters into a municipal public works contract with such a municipality may be relieved from complying with certain statutory contract compliance requirements as long as it complies with the municipality's program. By law, CHRO may similarly allow state agencies to use their own compliance programs.

69 & 71 — CHRO Enforcement

The bill subjects contractors with a municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contract to CHRO's enforcement authority if they violate the law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements. If after a hearing, CHRO finds noncompliance by the contractor with respect to such requirements, it may, among other things, (1) order the municipality or entity to withhold 2% of the total contract price per month from such contractors, (2) prohibit the contractor from entering into further municipal public works or quasi-public agency project contracts for a specified period of time, or (3) refer the matter to the attorney general or appropriate prosecuting authority.

The bill similarly prohibits municipalities and entities from entering into a municipal public works contract or quasi-public agency project contract, respectively, with any bidder or prospective contractor that does not comply with (1) the law's nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements or (2) orders issued by CHRO. Under existing law, this prohibition applies to state agencies.

The bill also modifies provisions affecting CHRO's contract compliance enforcement (see CHRO below).

Background — Definitions of SBE and MBE

By law, an SBE is a business that (1) maintains its principal place of business in Connecticut, (2) had gross revenues of $15 million or less during its most recent fiscal year, and (3) is independent. MBEs are small contractors owned by women, minorities, or people with disabilities. The owner must have managerial and technical competence and experience directly related to his or her principal business activities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015, except the provision applying the bill's requirements to CI and CRDA, which is effective January 1, 2016.

71-87 — COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES (CHRO)

The bill makes numerous changes to the CHRO statutes and other anti-discrimination laws, including numerous minor, technical, and conforming changes.

It makes certain technical changes to conform to changes to another CHRO statute in PA 15-249.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

71 — Contract Compliance

By law, CHRO can issue a discrimination complaint against a contractor or subcontractor if it determines through its monitoring and compliance process that the contractor has not complied with specified anti-discrimination laws and contract provisions in state and public works contracts (e.g., affirmative action requirements). The bill requires the complaint to be scheduled for a hearing before a human rights referee, instead of a referee or hearing officer.

By law, if the presiding officer (i.e., the referee) makes a finding of noncompliance after a hearing, he or she can take a range of specified actions. The bill requires the presiding officer to order the relief needed to achieve full compliance with any anti-discrimination law and required contract provisions.

The bill also makes changes to some of the existing authority the presiding officer has after finding such noncompliance. It specifies that the officer can order two or more remedies designed to achieve full compliance.

Currently, the officer can order the state to retain 2% of the total contract price per month on any existing contract with the noncomplying contractor. The bill (1) specifies that this refers to the amount the state must withhold until CHRO approves the contractor's affirmative action plan for public works contractors and (2) requires this amount to be deposited in the same fund as are penalties collected for certain fraudulent acts related to qualification as a minority business enterprise.

Currently, a presiding officer can notify the attorney general when there is a substantial or material violation or the threat of such a violation of the required anti-discrimination provisions in contracts. The bill allows such notice only for substantial violations or the threat of them. Similarly, the bill only allows the presiding officer to recommend to a contracting agency that the agency declare a contractor to be in breach of contract for substantial violations, not just material violations, still occurring after a specified period of time.

The bill allows the presiding officer to recommend to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Justice that appropriate proceedings be instituted under related laws to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, in addition to Title VII itself, when necessary.

Fraud Related to MBE Qualification. Currently, CHRO can assess a civil penalty of up to $10,000 if it determines through its complaint procedure and following a hearing that a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier has (1) fraudulently qualified as an MBE or (2) performed services or supplied material on behalf of another contractor, subcontractor, or supplier, knowing it has fraudulently qualified and that the supplies or material will be used for a set-aside contract. The bill extends these provisions to service providers.

73 — Deprivation of Rights Based on Mental Disability

By law, it is a discriminatory practice to deprive someone of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by state or federal laws or constitutions based on certain factors (such as the person's race, sex, or physical disability). The bill adds mental disability to this list.

74-75 — Discriminatory Practice Complaint—General Provisions

The bill eliminates the notarization requirement for discriminatory practice complaints alleging housing discrimination. This change makes state law consistent with federal Housing and Urban Development procedures.

It requires the commission to provide the claimant, rather than serve upon him or her, a notice (1) acknowledging receipt of the complaint and (2) advising of the time frames and forum choices in the anti-discrimination law.

By law, CHRO retains jurisdiction over a complaint pending before it, even if it fails to comply with certain time requirements. The bill further provides that for discrimination cases in Superior Court, the court retains jurisdiction even if CHRO failed to comply with these time requirements.

75 — Complaints Pending More Than Two Years

By law, if a discrimination complaint has been pending for more than two years, and the CHRO investigator has not yet issued a finding as to whether there is reasonable cause that discrimination occurred, either party can petition the Hartford Superior Court for an order requiring CHRO to issue a finding by a specified date. The bill eliminates the option of serving the petition on CHRO's legal counsel, instead requiring it to be served on the executive director.

By law, the court must hold a hearing on such a petition that is contested. The bill generally requires the court to award court costs and attorneys' fees to the petitioner unless CHRO shows good cause for not issuing a finding by the date ordered by the executive director for the investigator to issue a finding, rather than the later of this date and two years after the complaint filing as under current law. (By law, the award is discretionary and capped at $500 and certain petitioners are ineligible.)

77 — Certification of Complaint

By law, if a CHRO investigator who finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred fails to eliminate it within 50 days after the finding, the investigator must certify the complaint and results of the investigation within 10 days after the 50-day period, to the executive director and attorney general. The bill specifies that the investigator's conclusion that conciliation has failed is conclusive.

Under current law, after a complaint is certified, the chief human rights referee must appoint a hearing officer or adjudicator or human rights referee to act as presiding officer to hear the complaint or conduct settlement negotiations. After CHRO brings a complaint for certain types of violations, the chief referee must appoint a hearing officer or human rights referee for this same purpose.

The bill instead requires the chief referee to appoint (1) a human rights referee to act as presiding officer to hear the complaint and (2) a different referee, or a volunteer attorney, to conduct settlement negotiations. The bill also applies this same requirement to complaints heard after early legal intervention.

Current law requires the hearing to take place at CHRO's office or another location CHRO chooses. The bill instead requires any hearing, hearing conference, or settlement conference to take place at CHRO's Hartford office unless all parties agree to a different location.

By law, the attorney general or CHRO legal counsel can withdraw the certification of a complaint and remand the case to the investigator upon determining that a material mistake of law or fact was made in the reasonable cause finding. The bill also allows cases referred for an administrative hearing to be remanded if CHRO legal counsel determines that further investigation is needed. In either situation, the bill requires the investigator to complete any required action within 90 days after receiving the file.

The bill requires, rather than allows, the respondent to file a written answer under oath and appear at the hearing, in person or otherwise.

Current law allows a presiding officer to enter a default, and order necessary relief, if the respondent fails to timely file an answer or appear at the hearing after receiving proper notice. The bill extends these provisions to (1) a referee or volunteer attorney assigned to supervise the settlement and (2) failure to appear at the hearing conference or settlement conference after proper notice. It provides that if a volunteer attorney enters a default, the chief referee must assign a referee to act as presiding officer to award relief.

78 — Written Findings of Fact After Hearing

The bill specifically requires CHRO presiding officers, after conducting hearings, to make written findings of fact. This applies regardless of whether the officer found evidence of discrimination. It specifies that the presiding officer must serve the order on the complainant, not just the respondent. By law, the officer must also file the order with CHRO.

79 & 80 — Injunctive Relief

The bill specifies that CHRO, and not an individual commissioner, has the authority to bring a petition for (1) equitable relief in employment discrimination matters or (2) equitable relief, punitive damages, or a civil penalty in housing or public accommodations discrimination matters.

For employment discrimination matters, it also allows such petitions to be made in Hartford Superior Court, even if that is not the district where the respondent resides or where the alleged discrimination occurred.

It also provides that the (1) chief referee, and not the commission chairperson, must schedule a hearing within 45 days after any order of temporary injunctive relief and (2) executive director, and not the chairperson, may petition to make a temporary injunction permanent in several types of matters.

81 — Reopening

By law, a complainant or respondent can ask CHRO to reopen a case, by applying within two years of CHRO's final decision. The bill prohibits such an application if the complainant (1) has been granted a release from CHRO jurisdiction or (2) has not been granted a release but has filed a court case.

84 — Civil Action After Release From CHRO Jurisdiction

The bill allows someone who has obtained a release from CHRO jurisdiction to bring a court case in the district where he or she resides, in addition to those venues already allowed (e.g., the district where the discrimination allegedly occurred).

87 — Whistleblower

By law, CHRO may assign legal counsel to represent the commission in a hearing or appeal concerning alleged retaliatory action against related to whistleblowing by an employee of the state, a quasi-public agency, large state contractor, or appointing authority. The bill provides that CHRO legal counsel may intervene as a matter of right in these hearings or appeal without permission from the parties, hearing officer, or court.

89-92 — FUNDS CARRIED FORWARD FOR A DIFFERENT PURPOSE

The bill carries forward prior years' unspent balances from FY 15 to and requires them to be used FY 16 for other purposes in the same agency, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Funds Carried Forward for a Different Purpose

From FY 15

 

To FY 16

Agency

Prior Purpose

Amount

New Purpose

Amount

89

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)

Other Expenses

Up to $100,000

Other Expenses - Grants

$40,000 to the New London County 4-H Camp

 

DEEP

Solid Waste

Up to $205,000

$135,000 for the West River Watershed Plan

 

DEEP

Environmental Conservation

Up to $200,000

$300,000 to Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. for its weatherization program

 

DEEP

Environmental Quality

Up to $200,000

$50,000 to provide drinking water for certain residents affected by contaminated groundwater

$180,000 for the aquatic invasive species management program

90

DEEP

Solid Waste

Up to $40,000

Dam Maintenance

$20,000 for hydrology study in Ledyard

$20,000 for a hydrology study in East Hampton

91

Judicial Department

Juvenile Alternative Incarceration

Up to $250,000

Grant - COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Inc. Peacebuilders program

$250,000

92

Office of Policy and Management (OPM)

Tax Relief for Elderly Renters

Up to $1,100,000

Litigation/Settlement Account

$1,100,000

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

93 — BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS GRANTS

The bill specifies that $1,000,000 appropriated to the State Department of Education for Neighborhood Youth Centers for both FY 16 and 17 must be made available in each fiscal year for grants to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America located in the state.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

94 — YOUTH SERVICES PREVENTION

The bill specifies that the Judicial Department Youth Services Prevention appropriations must be distributed to certain governmental and non-governmental entities, in both FYs 16 and 17. Table 2 provides each grant recipient and amount received.

Table 2: Youth Services Prevention Grants

Grant Recipient

Grant Amount Each FY Year

Boys and Girls Club of Stamford

$113,110

Archipelago Inc. – Project Music

35,000

Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church

148,110

Prudence Crandall Center, Inc.

16,788

Family Enrichment Center of the Hospital of Central Connecticut

16,788

OIC of New Britain Inc.- Project G.R.E.A.T.

50,000

Pathways/Senderos

50,000

Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.

100,000

Mi Casa, Hispanic Health Council

35,000

Charter Oak Amateur Boxing Academy and Youth Development Program (COBA)

30,000

Southwest Boys and Girls Club/ 1 Chandler Street, Hartford

30,000

Youth Challenge

34,000

BSL Educational Foundation of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc.

30,662

Town of Windsor - Collaborative

31,000

Supreme Being, Inc.

31,000

Phillips Metropolitan Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

25,000

Windsor Troop 49

5,000

North End Action Team

156,700

The Village Initiative Project, Inc. - VIP College Prep and Life Skills

111,975

Bridgeport Caribe Youth League Inc.

80,000

McGivney Community Center Inc.

31,975

Serving All Vessels Equally

211,151

Walnut Orange Walsh Neighborhood

60,394

St. Margaret Willow Plaza NRZ, Assoc., Inc.

60,394

Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury

60,394

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury

60,394

Waterbury Police Activity League, Inc.

60,394

Rivera Memorial Foundation, Inc.

60,394

Dixwell Children's Creative Arts Center

124,004

Police Athletic League of New Haven

50,000

Arte Inc.

174,004

'r Kids Family Center

50,000

Guns Down, Books Up

74,004

EIR Urban Youth Boxing, Inc.

50,000

Foster Buddies Network/Hartford Boxing Center

45,986

Police Athletic League of Hartford

30,000

Compass Youth Collaborative Peacebuilders Program

40,000

Walter E. Luckett, Jr. Foundation

111,975

Little League Baseball, Inc.

40,538

New London Youth Football League

40,539

East Hartford Youth Services

85,150

Manchester Youth Service Bureau

85,150

Boys and Girls Club of Bridgeport, Inc.

61,975

Bridgeport Caribe Youth League Inc.

50,000

Upper Albany Collaborative

32,662

C.U.R.E.T

20,000

Hartford Knights

50,000

Blue Hill Civic Association

20,000

Artists Collective

35,000

Ebony Horsewomen

35,000

Youth Challenge

25,000

Goodworks, Inc.

27,662

M.G.L.L, Inc.

62,000

City of Hartford Southend Boys Scouts

15,000

Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation/City of Hartford

45,000

Kenneth R. Jacksons Mentoring Services, Inc.

111,975

Mount Aery Development Corporation

111,975

Girls, Inc.

16,712

Boys and Girls Club of Meriden

16,712

Beat the Street Community Center

16,712

Meriden YMCA

16,712

Women and Families Center

16,712

City of Meriden/Youth Services Division

16,712

City of Meriden/Police Cadets

16,712

Rushford Hospital Youth Program

16,712

New Opportunities of Greater Meriden/Boys to Men Program

16,712

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

95 — DSS FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE PROGRAM GRANTS

For FYs 16 and 17, the bill requires DSS to provide grants under the Fatherhood Initiative Program proportionately to the same providers that received funding in FY 15.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

96 — CRADLE TO CAREER NETWORK GRANTS

The bill specifies that the 2015 appropriations to the Labor Department's Cradle to Career Network must be distributed to the private entities listed below in both FY 16 and 17 to establish a public-private partnership with community organizations to improve the Network. Each of the following entities will receive $50,000 for both FY 16 and 17:

1. United Way of Coastal Fairfield County in Bridgeport,

2. The Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk on behalf of Norwalk ACTS,

3. United Way of Western Connecticut in Danbury, and

4. The Bridge to Success Community Partnership in Waterbury.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

97 & 98 — RETIRED TEACHER HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUM ACCOUNT

The bill removes the annual cap of $150,000 on health care benefit consultant costs that may be paid from the Retired Teachers' Health Insurance Premium account.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

99-101 — WAGES FOR OLM CONTRACTORS' EMPLOYEES

The bill generally requires the Joint Committee on Legislative Management, in any of its contracts for contractual services or personal service agreements entered into, executed, or extended on or after July 1, 2015, to require a contractor and its subcontractors to pay at least $15 per hour to any of their employees providing services under the contract or agreement. The requirement does not apply to any employee providing services under a contract who receives services from the Department of Developmental Services.

The bill's minimum wage requirement applies regardless of whether the employee is required to be paid at a lower rate under the state's standard wage law, which generally requires private contractors providing certain services in state buildings to pay their workers a wage rate determined by the labor commissioner. If the standard wage law requires an hourly wage rate greater than $15, the employee must receive the greater wage rate.

The bill also prohibits the committee from waiving the $15 hourly minimum requirement under its authority to waive certain contracting requirements as “minor irregularities” when considering bids and proposals.

By law, “contractual services” covered by the requirement are services provided by people other than state employees for, among other things, laundry and cleaning; pest control; janitorial; security; machinery or equipment rental, repair, or maintenance; advertising; and data entry and processing. “Personal service agreements” are written agreements defining the services or end product to be delivered by a person, firm, or corporation hired by the committee to provide services to the General Assembly, but not employed by the state (CGS 2-71t).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

102 & 103 — EDC PROPOSAL FOR GRID-SIDE ENHANCEMENTS

The bill allows electric distribution companies (EDCs, i.e., Eversource and United Illuminating) to submit proposals to DEEP for a pilot program to build, own, or operate grid-side system enhancements, including energy storage systems, to demonstrate and investigate how distributed energy resources (DER) can be reliably and efficiently integrated into the electric distribution system in a way that maximizes the value they provide to the electric grid, electric ratepayers, and the public. The proposal must complement and enhance (1) the programs, products, and incentives available through the Connecticut Green Bank and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, (2) DEEP's Z-REC and L-REC programs, and (3) other similar programs that support DER deployment.

Under the bill, “grid-side system enhancements” are investments in distribution system infrastructure, technology, and systems designed to enable DER deployment and allow for grid management and system balancing. They include energy storage systems, distribution system automation and controls, intelligent field systems, advanced distribution system metering, communication, and systems that enable two-way power flow. A “distributed energy resource” is a:

1. customer-side or grid-side distributed resource that generates electricity from a Class I renewable energy source or Class III source (e.g., certain combined heat and power systems);

2. customer-side distributed resource that reduces demand for electricity through conservation and load management (e.g., programs that pay customers to reduce their usage during times of peak demand);

3. energy storage system located on the customer-side of the meter or connected to the distribution system; or

4. microgrid.

DEEP must evaluate the proposals and may approve them if they show how (1) grid-side system enhancements can be reliably and cost-effectively integrated into the electric distribution system and (2) they maximize the value provided to ratepayers. Any proposal DEEP approves must also be reviewed and approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). PURA must approve a proposal if it concludes that investing in the enhancement is reasonable, prudent, and provides value to ratepayers.

The bill allows the EDCs to enter into joint ownership agreements, partnerships, or other contractual agreements for services with private entities to carry out the proposals. Until its next rate case, an EDC must recover its costs for the proposals from all of its customers through a fully reconciling component of all EDC customers' electric rates. At the next rate case, the costs must be recoverable through the company's base distribution rates (i.e., they are incorporated into the company's regular distribution rates).

DEEP must evaluate the approved proposals and submit a report to the Energy and Technology Committee by January 1, 2017. The report must evaluate the performance, costs, and benefits associated with grid-side system enhancements procured under the bill.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

104 — CLASS I PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT

The law requires the DEEP commissioner, under certain conditions, to solicit proposals from Class I renewable energy sources built on or after January 1, 2013. If a proposal meets certain conditions, the commissioner can require an EDC to enter into a PURA-approved power purchase agreement with the proposal's Class I facility.

For assessment years starting on and after October 1, 2015, the bill allows municipalities to abate up to 100% of the property taxes due for any tax year for any Class I renewable energy source subject to one of these power purchase agreements. The abatement (1) cannot be for longer than the power purchase agreement's term and (2) must be approved by vote of the municipality's legislative body, or if the legislative body is a town meeting, by a vote of its board of selectmen.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

105 — LIMITED RESIDENTIAL FIXED CHARGE

The next time an EDC files a request to amend its rates, the bill requires PURA to adjust the company's residential fixed charge so that it only recovers the fixed costs and operation and maintenance expenses directly related to metering, billing, service connections, and providing customer service. Under the bill, a “residential fixed charge” is any fixed fee charged to residential electric customers, including a (1) fixed charge for distribution basic service, (2) distribution customer service charge, (3) customer charge, or (4) basic service fee that is separate and distinct from any per kilowatt-hour distribution charge. The bill exempts rates for residential electric heating services from the fixed charge limit.

The bill prohibits PURA, when determining an EDC's new residential fixed charges, from causing a cost-shift to other rate classes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

106 — NATURAL GAS EXPANSION PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT

The bill allows municipalities, by a vote of their legislative bodies or, if the legislative body is a town meeting, their boards of selectmen, to abate up to 100% of a gas company's annual personal property taxes to facilitate natural gas expansion projects. The municipality can abate the taxes for up to 25 tax years. The gas company must include the abatement when calculating the hurdle rate for gas expansion projects within the municipality.

In general, when a gas company seeks to expand its distribution system, the “hurdle rate” refers to the amount of projected new distribution revenues needed over a 25-year period to pay for the expansion. If the expansion will not pay for itself in this period, the new customers served by the expansion must pay for the shortfall through an additional contribution-in-aid-of-construction (CIAC) charge. (Presumably, including a property tax abatement in a hurdle rate calculation will lower the hurdle rate and thus decrease the (1) likelihood that new customers must pay a CIAC or (2) amount of the CIAC, if applicable.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015 and applicable to assessment years commencing on or after October 1, 2015.

107 — HEATING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

The bill requires the Low-Income Energy Advisory Board to recommend ways to improve the implementation of heating assistance programs, particularly those created to benefit low-income households, by coordinating and optimizing existing energy efficiency and assistance programs. The recommendations must consider:

1. how DEEP, the Department of Social Services, community action agencies, EDCs, and municipal electric companies can securely share (a) heating assistance program applicant data on customer energy usage levels, past participation, and eligibility for energy assistance and efficiency programs, and (b) other data relevant to improving coordination between the programs and their administrators;

2. current energy assistance and efficiency programs' costs and benefits and how to maximize customer benefits through their participation in any combination of the programs;

3. how to streamline the program's application process and possibly develop joint electronic applications;

4. how to make the programs more accessible and feasible for renters, including how to best secure landlord permission; and

5. coordinating efforts to best improve boiler and furnace replacement programs.

The board must report its recommendations to the Appropriations, Energy and Technology, and Human Services committees by January 1, 2016.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

108 — PURA STUDY ON EXPIRING RETAIL SUPPLIER CONTRACTS

PA 15-90 requires PURA to develop recommendations and guidance about what generation service rate increases are just and reasonable for residential customers who allow a fixed contract with a retail electricity supplier to expire and begin paying the supplier a month-to-month rate. The bill instead requires PURA's recommendations and guidance to be about what changes customers in these circumstances may experience regarding their rates and the terms and conditions of their service.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

109 — MUNICIPAL UTILITY SECURITY DEPOSITS

The bill allows customers of municipal gas or electric utility companies to pay their required security deposits by cash, letter of credit, or surety bond.

It also allows municipal electric companies that are members of a municipal electric energy cooperative to return half of a nonresidential customer's security deposit if the customer's account remains in good standing for two years. (Currently, Wallingford's electric company is the only one of the state's six municipal electric companies that is not a member of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

110-111 — REGIONAL SERVICES GRANTS FOR COUNCILS OF GOVERNMENTS (COG)

PA 15-244 ( 207) requires, beginning in FY 17, OPM to distribute regional services grants to COGs on a per capita basis, based on the most recent Department of Public Health population estimate. The bill eliminates the requirement that these grants be distributed on a per capita basis, instead requiring them to be distributed based on a formula determined by the OPM secretary.

PA 15-244 requires COGs to use the grants (1) for planning purposes and (2) to achieve efficiencies in delivering municipal services on a regional basis, including consolidating services on a regional basis.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

112 — CIVIL ACTIONS TO COLLECT PAST DUE PAYMENTS TO EMPLOYEE WELFARE FUNDS

The bill allows an employee to sue for unpaid wages over an employer's past due payments to an employee welfare fund (i.e., a fund that provides healthcare, disability, or retirement benefits for the employee). The payment must be past due under a written contract's terms or the rules and regulations adopted by the fund's trustees. In such actions, the law allows an employee to be awarded up to twice the amount owed, plus costs and attorney's fees. The labor commissioner can also (1) collect the past due payments, plus interest or (2) bring a legal action to recover up to twice the amount owed, plus costs and attorney's fees. The bill applies to all employers; however, it appears that the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) may preempt this provision from applying to private sector employers and employees (see below).

The bill also allows such an aggrieved employee to bring a civil action against (1) a sole proprietor or general partner, or officer, director, or member of a corporation or LLC who failed to make the required payment or (2) any employee of a corporation or LLC, who was designated to make the payment but failed. Under the bill, these people can be found personally liable for the amount due, plus costs and attorney's fees. It appears that ERISA may also preempt this provision from applying to private sector employers and their employees.

ERISA Preemption

ERISA is a federal regulatory scheme for private sector employee benefit plans. Among other things, it sets requirements for benefit plan funding and fiduciary duties and specifies the civil remedies available to address violations. In general, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that state laws providing alternative enforcement mechanisms to ERISA are preempted because they undermine Congress's intent to replace conflicting or inconsistent state and local regulations with a uniform body of federal law and regulation (Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. McClendon, 498 U.S. 133 (1990)). The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals also found that ERISA preempted a New York law that made corporate officers personally liable for a failure to contribute to an employee welfare fund (Romney v. Lin, 94 F.3d 74 (1996)).

Because ERISA generally does not apply to public employers and their employees, ERISA preemption for the above reasons may limit the bill's applicability to public employers and employees.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

113 — LABOR PEACE AGREEMENTS

The bill requires the state, in certain state-backed “hospitality projects,” to require contracts for hotel or concession area operation or management services to include a labor peace agreement between the contractor, including any of its subcontractors, tenants, or licensees, and the labor organization representing or seeking to represent the hotel's or concession area's employees. Under the bill, a “labor peace agreement” is an agreement that requires the labor organization and its members to refrain from engaging in labor activity that may disrupt the hotel's or concession area's operations, including strikes, boycotts, work stoppages, and picketing.

The requirement applies if the state has a “substantial proprietary interest” in the hospitality project. The state has such an interest if (1) it invested at least $6 million in the hospitality project or 20% of the project's costs, whichever is less, and must be reimbursed under a finance agreement or (2) the project has a contract, lease, or license that entitles the state to receive rents, royalties, or other payments in connection with a property provided by the state and based on the project's revenue. The bill requires the labor peace agreement to remain effective until that state's financial investment is fully repaid.

Under the bill, a “hospitality project” is a (1) capital project involving a restaurant, bar, club, cafeteria, or other food and beverage operation within a hotel's premises or (2) concession area used to provide food and beverage or news and gift services within the premises of a state-owned or operated facility that is financed or contracted for by the state. A “capital project” is any acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, or remodeling of any structure (1) used or intended to be used for commercial purposes and (2) financed in whole or in part with funds or property from, or arranged by, the state, including grants, loans, bonds, revenue bonds, tax increment financing, real property conveyances, or other means.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2016

114-115 — CONCUSSION INFORMATION FOR YOUTH ATHLETES

The bill requires youth athletic activity operators, beginning by January 1, 2016, to annually make a written or electronic statement on concussions available to every youth participating in a youth athletic activity and his or her parent or legal guardian.

The operator must make the statement available when the youth registers. The statement must be consistent with current information provided by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on concussions and include information on:

1. concussion signs or symptom recognition,

2. how to obtain proper medical treatment for someone suspected of sustaining a concussion,

3. the nature of concussions and their risks, including the danger of continuing to engage in athletic activity after sustaining a concussion, and

4. proper procedures for allowing the athlete who sustained a concussion to return to athletic activity.

Under the bill, no operator or operator's designee is subject to civil liability for failing to make the written or electronic statement regarding concussions available, as required by the bill.

The bill also makes a technical change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

116 — AQUACULTURE ADVISORY COUNCIL

The bill establishes a 13-member Aquaculture Advisory Council and places it in the Agricultural Experiment Station for administrative purposes. The council must meet quarterly and, beginning July 1, 2016, report annually to the governor and Environment Committee on the status of the state's shellfish industry and any related recommendations.

Duties

Under the bill, the Aquaculture Advisory Council must:

1. develop a recommended plan to expand the state's shellfish industry,

2. recommend procedures for having maps with the names of state shellfish bed lessees publicly available,

3. review the state shellfish leasing process and recommend to the governor and Environment Committee any changes to the leases or leasing process,

4. review health and safety standards relating to the state's shellfish industry,

5. review existing laws and procedures on recreational shellfishing,

6. review other coastal states' laws and regulations on shellfish size and recommend changes to Connecticut's related law,

7. coordinate with other states to inform recommendations on how to further develop the state's shellfish industry, and

8. provide recommendations on policies to the Department of Agriculture's (DoAg) Bureau of Aquaculture.

Membership

The council is made up of (1) the DoAg, public health (DPH), and energy and environmental protection (DEEP) commissioners, or their designees; (2) three members appointed by the governor; and (4) seven other appointees, appointed by the legislative leaders. The ten appointees must meet specified qualifications, as shown in Table 3. Appointments must be made by October 1, 2015. The governor must designate the chairperson and the council must elect a vice-chairperson from among the members.

Table 3: Appointee Qualifications

Appointing Authority

Number of Appointees

Required Qualifications

Governor

Three

One shellfish industry representative licensed to operate less than 1,000 acres of shellfish beds

One marine habitat conservation organization representative

One marine studies scholar

Senate President Pro Tempore

One

Recreational shellfisherman

Senate majority leader

One

Shellfish industry representative licensed to operate at least 2,500 acres of shellfish beds

Senate minority leader

One

Shellfish industry representative licensed to operate 1,000 to 2,499 acres of shellfish beds

House Speaker

Two

One chief executive officer of a coastal municipality west of the Connecticut River

One unspecified

House majority leader

One

Chief executive officer of a coastal municipality east of the Connecticut River

House minority leaders

One

Shellfish commission representative

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

117 — WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

Under the bill, an officer or employee of a state shellfish grounds lessee may not take or threaten to take any personnel action against another employee of the lessee in retaliation for that employee giving (1) information to the leasing agency (e.g., the state or municipality) about the shellfish grounds lease or (2) testimony or assistance in any whistleblower proceeding.

If a personnel action is taken or threatened in violation of the above prohibition, the aggrieved employee or his or her attorney, within 90 days after learning of the incident, may file a complaint against the lessee with the chief human rights referee. The chief referee must assign the compliant to a referee, who must hold a hearing and issue a decision on whether there was a violation. The referee must act as an independent hearing officer.

The referee may order a state shellfish grounds lessee to produce, without a subpoena, (1) an employee to testify as a witness and (2) relevant books, papers, or documents. If the lessee fails to do so within 30 days after the order, the referee may consider that as supporting evidence for the complainant.

If, after the hearing, the referee decides there was a violation, he or she may award the employee reinstatement, back pay, reestablishment of employee benefits, reasonable attorney's fees, and any other damages. Any party to the proceeding may appeal the referee's decision to Superior Court.

The bill requires the chief human rights referee to adopt regulations to establish procedures for filing complaints and noticing and holding hearings.

As an alternative to filing a complaint with the chief human rights referee, an aggrieved employee, after exhausting all administrative remedies, may file a civil action in Superior Court for the judicial district where the alleged violation occurred or the employer has its principle location.

Lastly, in any complaint or civil action brought against a lessee for a personnel action that happens within two years of the employee providing information to the leasing agency about a lease, there is a rebuttable presumption that the personnel action is in retaliation for the employee's action. (A “rebuttable presumption” is an assumption of fact accepted by the referee or court until disproved.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

118 — SHELLFISH TESTING LABORATORY REPORT

The bill requires the DoAg commissioner, after consulting with the DPH commissioner, to report to the Environment Committee by July 1, 2016 on the need for and viability of establishing a laboratory east of the Connecticut River for testing shellfish. The report must include:

1. a description of the required laboratory testing for shellfish as prescribed by DPH, DoAg, or law;

1. an explanation of the standards a shellfish testing laboratory must meet;

2. a description of any equipment and facilities required to perform the testing;

3. the qualifications any person who performs the testing must possess;

4. an assessment of the adequacy of existing state facilities to perform testing for the state's shellfish industry; and

5. the volume of testing that could occur at a facility established east of the Connecticut River.

The report must also (1) identify any existing privately owned facilities, state resources, or state facilities that could adequately and appropriately serve as a testing laboratory east of the Connecticut River and (2) include a cost-benefit analysis on modifying existing state resources or facilities to perform the testing.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

119-120 — AGRICULTURE HEARING OFFICERS

The bill expands the DoAg commissioner's authority to designate people he deems qualified to carry out certain agency functions, including administrative proceedings.

By law, the commissioner may designate a DoAg (1) deputy commissioner to act in his place if he is absent and (2) deputy commissioner, employee, assistant, or agent to administer or enforce statutes, regulations, permits, or orders.

The bill allows the commissioner also to designate:

1. a DoAg employee to act in his place when he is absent;

2. a DoAg deputy commissioner, employee, assistant, or agent to be a hearing officer in an administrative hearing;

3. more than one qualified person to conduct an administrative hearing, with one serving as the presiding officer; and

4. any qualified person, who the commissioner may pay, to be a hearing officer for a contested case.

Under current law, the authority to issue a final decision after a hearing lies solely with the commissioner. The bill authorizes the commissioner to direct a hearing officer to make a (1) proposed final decision or (2) final decision. But the commissioner or a deputy commissioner must consider and make final decisions for modifications or reconsiderations of contested cases.

The bill also (1) eliminates a duplicative provision on the commissioner's authority to delegate agents and (2) makes other technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

121 — FARMLAND RESTORATION PLANS INCLUDE SHELLFISH

PA 15-22 allows the DoAg commissioner to partially reimburse a farmer for the cost to develop, implement, and comply with a farmland restoration plan under the state's farmland restoration program. The bill specifies that a “farmland restoration plan” includes a conservation and restoration plan for leased or franchised shellfish beds and “farmer” includes a lessee or franchise holder of a state or town shellfish bed.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

122 — GOVERNOR'S SCHOLARSHIP NEED-BASED GRANT

Beginning July 1, 2015, the bill limits, to $673,000, the amount of funding for the need-based grant that an independent higher education institution can annually receive if it is located in a municipality with between 50,000 and 52,000 people, as shown by the 2010 federal decennial census.

By law, the Governor's Scholarship has four award categories: a (1) need and merit-based (merit) award, (2) need-based award, (3) performance incentive pool, and (4) Charter Oak Grant. For the need-based award, OHE must (1) determine eligibility based on expected family contribution and (2) allocate funds for the need-based award to institutions for disbursement to students in accordance with requirements the office establishes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

123 — DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SERVICES (DRS) ADMINISTRATIVE PRONOUNCEMENTS

Existing law authorizes the DRS commissioner to issue administrative pronouncements interpreting tax laws. The bill eliminates requirements that the commissioner, after issuing a pronouncement, (1) publish a notice of intent to adopt regulations implementing a pronouncement within 180 days of publishing it and (2) submit the proposed regulations to the legislative Regulation Review Committee within six months.

By law, the pronouncements do not have the force and effect of regulations and must include a notice of this fact. However, taxpayers may, by law, rely on them.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

124 — TAX INCIDENCE STUDY

The bill delays, from December 31, 2016 to February 15, 2017, the deadline by which DRS must submit its next tax incidence report to the legislature. By law, DRS must biennially submit to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, and post on DRS' website, a report on the overall incidence of the income tax, sales and excise taxes, corporation business tax, and property tax.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

125 & 126 — RELIEF FOR INNOCENT SPOUSES

The law allows the DRS commissioner to excuse a taxpayer who files a joint tax return from paying taxes, interest, and penalties if his or her spouse (or former spouse) improperly reported or omitted items on their joint tax return (i.e., innocent spouses). It establishes three types of relief for such taxpayers: (1) innocent spouse relief, (2) separation of liability relief, and (3) equitable relief.

Under current law, the taxpayer must apply for relief within two years after the DRS commissioner first attempted to collect the tax. The bill eliminates this deadline for taxpayers applying for equitable relief but maintains it for those applying for innocent spouse or separation of liability relief.

The bill also allows, rather than requires, the DRS commissioner to adopt regulations necessary to carry out the innocent spouse relief provisions.

As under current law, taxpayers applying for equitable relief must do so according to procedures the DRS commissioner prescribes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

127 — SUBMITTING FEDERAL W-2 FORMS TO DRS

Existing law requires employers, annually by January 31, to provide each employee with a written statement that shows the amount of wages paid and income tax deducted and withheld from such wages during the previous calendar year (i.e., a federal Form W-2). Currently, employers must file copies of these forms with DRS, generally by the last day of (1) February, for employers filing paper returns, and (2) March, for employers filing electronic returns (Conn. Agencies Reg., 12-707-1(c)). The bill requires employers to file them by January 31 each year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

128 — DRS SPECIAL POLICE AGENTS

The bill allows the special police agents the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) commissioner appoints to serve in DRS to operate anywhere within the department, rather than just in its special investigation section. By law, these special police agents have all the powers of state police and serve at the DESPP commissioner's pleasure.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

129 — RACKETEERING ACTIVITY

The bill extends the definition of racketeering activity under the Corrupt Organization Racketeering Act (CORA) to include violations of the following cigarette tax laws:

1. fraudulent making, uttering, forging, or counterfeiting of cigarette tax stamps or causing or procuring the same to be done;

2. willful uttering, publishing, passing, or rendering as true any false, altered, forged, or counterfeited stamps;

3. knowing possession of any such false, altered, forged, or counterfeited stamp;

4. use of a cigarette tax stamp more than once to evade the cigarette tax;

5. tampering with, or causing the tampering of, a cigarette tax metering machine; or

6. possessing, transporting for sale, selling, or offering for sale 20,000 or more cigarettes (a) in any unstamped or illegally packaged stamped packages or (b) that the law prohibits from bearing a tax stamp, as described below.

By law, cigarette distributors and dealers cannot put a state cigarette tax stamp on and sell a cigarette package if it:

1. is not labeled in conformity with the federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act and other applicable federal label and warning requirements;

1. is labeled in a way prescribed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury indicating that the cigarettes are intended for export and are exempt from taxation (e.g., "For export only" or "For use outside U.S. ");

2. was imported into the U.S. after January 1, 2000 in violation of federal law restricting the importation of cigarettes that have been previously exported;

3. violates federal trademark or copyright law or if federal taxes have not been paid;

4. has been modified or altered by someone other than the manufacturer, or someone authorized by the manufacturer, including with a sticker or label that covers information described in the first two prohibitions;

5. is produced by a cigarette manufacturer, or belongs to a brand family, that is not listed in DRS' Connecticut Tobacco Directory (i.e., its listing of tobacco product manufacturers and their brand families that comply with the state's tobacco settlement law); or

6. is not included in the Connecticut Fire-Safe Cigarette Directory (i.e. the State Fire Marshal Office's listing of cigarette manufacturers in compliance with the state's fire-safe cigarette laws).

CORA punishes racketeering activity. It subjects violators to (1) one to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both; (2) forfeiture of property acquired, maintained, or used in violation of CORA including profits, appreciated value, and sale proceeds; and (3) forfeiture of any interest, claim against property, or contractual right affording a source of influence over any enterprise the violator established, operated, controlled, conducted, or participated in.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

130 — PROBATE COURT ADMINISTRATION FUND

Under current law, if there is a balance in the Probate Court Administration Fund on June 30 exceeding 15% of its authorized expenditures in the coming fiscal year, that excess is transferred to the General Fund.

The bill overrides this provision for FY 15, by requiring any balance in the Probate Court Administration Fund on June 30, 2015 to remain in that fund.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

131 — AMBULATORY SURGICAL CENTER TAX

PA 15-244 imposes a 6% gross receipts tax on Department of Public Health-licensed and Medicare-certified ambulatory surgical centers. The bill excludes from this tax any portion of a center's gross receipts that constitutes net patient revenue of a hospital that is subject to the hospital tax. It also allows the centers to seek remuneration for the 6% tax.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

132 — CITIZENS' ELECTION FUND TRANSFER TO GENERAL FUND

On or after July 1, 2016, the bill transfers $7,750,000 from the Citizens' Election Fund (CEF) to the General Fund for FY 17.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

133 — SALES TAX REVENUE DIVERSION

PA 15-244, 74, requires the DRS commissioner to direct a portion of sales tax revenue to the Special Transportation Fund (STF) and Municipal Revenue Sharing Account (MRSA) according to a specified schedule.

The bill adjusts the schedule for the revenue diversion, as shown in Tables 4 and 5.

Table 4: Sales Tax Revenue Diverted to MRSA

PA 15-244's Timetable for Revenue Diversion (quarters ending on or after)

Bill's Timetable for Revenue Diversion (months beginning on or after)

% Diverted to MRSA (% of 6.35% sales tax revenue)

December 31, 2015, but prior to July 1, 2016

January 1, 2016, but prior to May 1, 2017

4.7%

July 1, 2016, but prior to July 1, 2017

May 1, 2017, but prior to July 1, 2017

6.3%

July 1, 2017

July 1, 2017

7.9%

Table 5: Sales Tax Revenue Diverted to STF

PA 15-244's Timetable for Revenue Diversion (quarters ending on or after)

Bill's Timetable for Revenue Diversion (months beginning on or after)

% Diverted to STF (% of 6.35% sales tax revenue)

December 31, 2015, but prior to July 1, 2016

October 1, 2015, but prior to October 1, 2016

4.7%

July 1, 2016, but prior to July 1, 2017

October 1, 2016, but prior to July 1, 2017

6.3%

July 1, 2017

July 1, 2017

7.9%

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage and applicable to sales occurring on or after October 1, 2015

133-135 & 525 — COMPUTER AND DATA PROCESSING SERVICES

The bill eliminates provisions in PA 15-244, 74 & 76, (1) increasing the sales and use tax rate on computer and data processing services from 1% to 2% on October 1, 2015 and 2% to 3% on July 1, 2016; (2) for such services sold on or after October 1, 2015, exempting services performed by an entity for one of its affiliates (i.e., a person who directly or indirectly owns, controls, or is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership or control with another person); and (3) eliminating the use tax exemption on internet access services as of October 1, 2015.

PA 15-244, 75, expands the types of computer and data processing services subject to the tax to include the creation, development, hosting, and maintenance of a web site on the world wide web. The bill delays this expansion from July 1, 2015 to October 1, 2015. ( 493 & 494 of the bill make identical changes.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage and applicable to sales occurring on or after October 1, 2015, except for the provision (1) repealing the use tax changes in PA 15-244, which is effective upon passage; (2) temporarily restoring the world wide web exemption, which is effective July 1, 2015 and applicable to sales occurring on or after July 1, 2015; and (3) repealing the world wide web exemption as of October 1, 2015, which is effective October 1, 2015 and applicable to sales on or after October 1, 2015.

136 — SALES AND USE TAX ON EMPLOYER-PROVIDED PARKING

The bill repeals a provision in PA 15-244, 75, that, beginning July 1, 2015, eliminates the sales and use tax exemption for non-metered motor vehicle parking in an employer-operated lot with 30 or more spaces (1) owned or leased for a minimum of 10 years and (2) operated for the exclusive use of its employees. In doing so, it maintains the current exemption for such services.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015 and applicable to sales occurring on or after that date.

137 — SALES AND USE TAX ON CAR WASH SERVICES

The bill amends PA 15-244, 75, to extend the sales and use tax to coin-operated car washes. PA 15-244, 75, extends the sales and use tax to car wash services, but excludes coin-operated car washes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015 and applicable to sales occurring on or after that date.

138 — SALES TAX REMITTANCE DEADLINE

The bill pushes back the deadline for remitting monthly sales and use taxes and filing sales tax returns from the 20th day of the month to the last day of the month following the month covered by the return. Retailers that must remit the tax on a weekly or quarterly basis must continue to do so as the law or the revenue services commissioner requires.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015 and applicable to periods ending on or after December 31, 2015.

139 — KENO

PA 15-244 allows the Connecticut Lottery Corporation (CLC) to offer Keno games, but not until the Office of Policy and Management executes separate agreements with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes regarding CLC's Keno operation. The bill limits the total amount of gross Keno revenue the state may give to a tribe under an agreement to 12.5% of that revenue after subtracting prize payments.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

140-154 — COMBINED REPORTING

Delayed Effective Date

The bill delays, by one year, the effective date for implementing mandatory combined reporting. PA 15-244, 138-163, requires any company that is part of a corporate group engaged in a “unitary business” and subject to the Connecticut corporation tax to determine its corporation tax liability based on the combined group. The bill makes this requirement effective January 1, 2016, and applicable to income years starting on or after that date, rather than upon passage and applicable to income years starting on or after January 1, 2015.

The bill makes various changes to conform to the one-year delay, including eliminating special estimated tax filing deadlines and safe harbor provisions for taxpayers required to file combined returns in 2015.

Affiliated Groups

PA 15-244 gives combined groups the option of determining their members' net income, capital base, and apportionment factors on an affiliated group basis. Under the act, an affiliated group includes any member of the combined group, determined on a world-wide basis, incorporated in a “tax haven” (i.e., in a jurisdiction meeting specified criteria, including a tax regime that is favorable for tax avoidance). The bill specifies that such a member may be excluded from the affiliated group if the DRS commissioner is satisfied that the member is incorporated there for a legitimate business purpose.

Water's-Edge Basis

PA 15-244 requires combined groups to file on a water's-edge basis, unless they elect a world-wide or affiliated group basis. The bill requires groups filing on a water's-edge basis to include any member that earns more than 20% of its gross income, directly or indirectly, from intangible property or service-related activities, the costs of which generally are deductible for federal income tax purposes against the income of other group members (whether currently or over a period of time). Groups must include such members only to the extent of such gross income and its related apportionment factors.

Deduction for Certain Publicly-Traded Companies

PA 15-244 allows certain unitary groups to claim an offsetting deduction over a seven-year period, beginning in the 2018 income year, if the combined reporting requirements result in an increase in their members' net deferred tax liability or decrease in their net deferred tax assets. The bill additionally allows them to do so if combined reporting results in an aggregate change from a net deferred tax asset to a net deferred tax liability.

Technical Changes

The bill makes various technical changes and corrections to the combined reporting provisions in PA 15-244.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage and applicable to income years starting on or after January 1, 2015.

155 — DRY CLEANING ESTABLISHMENT SURCHARGE

By law, dry cleaning businesses must register with the revenue services commissioner and pay a 1% surcharge on their dry cleaning retail gross receipts. This bill imposes a $1,000 penalty each time they fail to register and prohibits them from providing dry cleaning services until they register. The commissioner may not waive the penalty.

Annually, beginning in 2015, dry cleaning businesses must also renew their registrations, by October 1, as the commissioner specifies. He must send a “nonrenewal notice” to each business that fails to renew its registration, and those that fail to renew within 45 days of the notice face a $200 penalty, which the commissioner may impose once during any registration period.

The commissioner may waive the renewal penalty if he is satisfied that the failure was unintentional or not due to neglect, but to reasonable cause. It appears that the Penalty Review Committee must approve the waiver. By law, this committee must approve waivers over $1,000 (CGS 12-3a). The committee consists of the revenue services commissioner, comptroller, and OPM secretary or their representatives.

By law, the revenue the dry cleaning surcharge generates funds grants for preventing, containing, or remediating pollution resulting from the hazardous chemicals used in dry cleaning. Eligible dry cleaners may apply for these grants to the Department of Economic and Community Development.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

156 & 157 — BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS

See Fiscal Note for an explanation of these sections.

158 — COMPETITIVE BIDS ON CONTRACTS PAID FOR WITH U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FUNDS

The bill exempts contracts that may be paid for with U.S. Department of Transportation funds from the Department of Administrative Services' (DAS) selection process and 10-day deadline for the acceptance of awards for (1) competitively bid contracts and (2) proposals submitted in response to a DAS request. This effectively means such contracts must be awarded to the lowest responsible qualified bidder or most advantageous proposer.

By law, DAS generally awards contracts for which it goes out to bid to the lowest responsible qualified bidder. However, if, within 10 days, that bidder refuses to accept the contract, DAS may award the contract to the next lowest responsible qualified bidder. A similar 10-day deadline and selection process applies to a person, firm, or corporation submitting a proposal in response to a DAS request for proposals.

Federal law requires state and local governments receiving federal highway grant funds to “award contracts for projects only on the basis of the lowest responsive bid submitted by a bidder meeting established criteria of responsibility ” (23 USC 112 and August 23, 2013 Memorandum of Opinion for the Acting General Counsel Department of Transportation).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

159 — DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT) LAND ACQUISITION STATUTES.

The law allows DOT to acquire land for state highways, bridges, state highway maintenance storage areas, and garages through condemnation or purchase.

Under current law, the commissioner, if he determines it is in the state's best interest, may buy, lease, or otherwise arrange to acquire or exchange land, buildings, or both for use as a highway maintenance storage area or garage. The bill extends this authority to include properties sought for broader highway or bridge purposes. As under existing law, a state referee must approve a purchase costing more than $100,000.

The bill also (1) reduces, from 120 days to 90 days, the length of time a property owner can continue to live rent-free on land DOT has condemned and (2) limits this rent-free occupancy to owner-occupied homes. But it also expands the law to allow owner-operated businesses to operate on these properties rent-free for 90 days, and applies these provisions to land the DOT purchases, as well as condemns.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

160 — MUNICIPAL RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL

The bill eliminates a provision specifically requiring DOT, when preparing to sell excess property, to offer it first to the town where it is located before putting it out for bid or auction. (But DOT, as required by current law, must continue to offer these properties to other state agencies before going to bid.)

Existing law, unchanged by the bill, requires any state agency selling land to first notify, in writing, the chief executive officer or officers of the municipality in which the land is located, as well as the affected legislators, of their intention to sell the land. The town has 45 days in which to express its intention to buy the property (CGS 3-14b).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

161 — DOT ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTION METHODS

By law, the DOT commissioner may designate certain projects to be built using alternatives to the traditional “design-bid-build” construction process. Such alternatives include the “construction manager at risk” (CMAR) and “design-build” processes.

In a CMAR contract, an owner (e.g., DOT) contracts with a construction manager who works with the project designer and provides labor, material, and project management during construction. By law, the CMAR contract must guarantee the maximum price.

The bill allows the commissioner, when he designates a project to use a contract with a CMAR contract with a guaranteed maximum price, to have DOT personnel do the design work or contract with an architect or engineer to do so. As under current law, it requires the CMAR contractor to provide input during the design process.

Under current law, the CMAR contractor (1) is responsible for the project's construction and (2) must select subcontractors for this work through a low sealed bid process. The bill allows, rather than requires, the CMAR contractor to be responsible for construction, and eliminates the CMAR's responsibility to select subcontractors through sealed bids.

The bill instead allows the DOT commissioner to permit the CMAR contractor to undertake a portion of the construction itself if the commissioner finds the construction manager general contractor is able to perform this work more cost-effectively than a subcontractor. It requires trade subcontractors, selected through a process the commissioner approves, to perform all the work the general contractor does not perform.

The bill allows the commissioner to put the project out to bid under DOT's traditional bid process if he and the CMAR contractor cannot agree on a guaranteed maximum price

By law, the commissioner must obtain competitive proposals by advertising the project at least once in a newspaper with a substantial circulation in the area where the project is located. The bill allows him to also provide this notice on DAS's State Contracting Portal or other advertising methods likely to reach qualified CMAR general contractors. Under the bill, he may similarly advertise projects for which he is using the design-build method. In a design-build contract, an owner (e.g., DOT) contracts with a single entity that both designs and builds a project.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

162 — USE OF CONSULTANTS FOR DOT PROJECTS USING ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTION METHODS

The law seeks to have DOT gradually reduce the use of consultants and, where possible, have its employees perform development and inspection work.

By law, the commissioner must use DOT employees for development and inspection work after the performance of the first two projects using alternative construction methods, (although he may continue to use consultants after this time if needed to complete work on projects authorized for alternative construction contracts). Development services include the size, type, and design of the project, performance specifications, quality of materials, equipment, workmanship and preliminary plans other information needed for DOT to issue a bid package. The bill requires the department to issue a request for proposal, rather than bid package, when using alternative contracting methods.

The bill allows the commissioner, after the first two projects are performed, to use consultants to design the project to be built by a CMAR if he determines that DOT lacks the capacity and technical expertise to design it. He must make this determination after assessing the project delivery schedule, staffing capacity, and required technical expertise required for a CMAR project. But it specifies that detailed design work on design-build contracts remains the contractor's responsibility. The bill requires the commissioner to create a program to train DOT employees to support alternative project delivery methods. This training may be provided on projects using consultants. The commissioner must report annually, by October 1, to the governor on (1) the department's progress in training its employees, (2) improving the diversity of its technical expertise, and (3) building internal project delivery capacity.

The commissioner's authority to use consultants under current law ends on the earlier of (1) when the governor notifies the Transportation Committee that consultants are no longer needed to complete alternative construction projects or (2) January 1, 2019 unless the legislature reauthorizes their use.

The bill extends (1) how long DOT can use consultants by three years, to January 1, 2022, and (2) the 2022 deadline another three years, until January 1, 2025, if the governor certifies that the continued use of consultants is necessary to complete alternative delivery projects.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

163 — INDEMNIFICATION OF METRO NORTH AND THE OPERATOR OF THE HARTFORD LINE

The bill allows the DOT commissioner, if he finds it is in the state's best interest, to indemnify and hold harmless Metro North Railroad against claims brought by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) or other third parties against Metro North related to the operation of M-8 rail cars on Amtrak property, provided the indemnification does not relieve Metro North of liability for its willful or negligent acts or omissions.

The bill also allows the commissioner to indemnify and hold harmless the operator of the new rail passenger service on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line if (1) he finds it is in the state's best interest to do so and (2) Amtrak requires the operator to indemnify it and hold it harmless. DOT has not yet selected an operator for this service.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

164 — REPAIRING AND MAINTAINING CERTAIN STRUCTURES

By law, the state must maintain and repair any structure, such as a bridge, that spans a (1) railroad line and supports a municipal road or (2) rail right-of-way a state agency has purchased. The law requires the commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a method for the state to share a structure's maintenance and repair costs with the municipality where the structure is located if it supports a municipal road.

The bill authorizes the commissioner to enter into an agreement with a municipality's authorized officials to maintain, and remove snow and ice from, a footpath or sidewalk on one of the structures described above. It also makes conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

165 — QUICK CLEARANCE OF HIGHWAYS

The bill generally exempts, from liability for property damage to a vehicle, its contents or the surrounding area, a wrecker operator who, at the direction of a police officer or a traffic authority, removes a vehicle blocking a limited access highway travel lane. The police officer or traffic authority must determine that the blocked lane poses an emergency and a threat to public safety. To be exempt, a wrecker operator must use all reasonable care to limit further damage to the vehicle, its contents, and the surrounding area.

By law, a violation of law regarding wreckers is an offense. A first violation is an infraction, and each subsequent violation is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250, up to 30 days in prison, or both.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

166 — ENHANCED ACCIDENT RESPONSE PLAN

The bill requires the commissioners of DOT, emergency services and public protection, and energy and environmental protection to report, by January 1, 2017, to the Transportation, Public Safety and Security, and Environment committees on the development and implementation of an enhanced accident response plan.

The report must include at least a description of:

1. existing programs and policies;

2. steps being taken to implement these programs and policies;

3. interagency initiatives to ensure a prompt, coordinated, and efficient response to accidents or other traffic incidents;

4. efforts to include other individuals and groups critical to the plan;

5. any federal programs to improve accident or traffic incident response, including the availability of federal funding to implement them; and

6. the goals to improve the plan for the coming year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

167 & 168 — MARINE PILOTS

The bill creates an alternative path for applicants to get marine pilot licenses. Current law requires applicants for a pilot's license for any state port or waterway, including the Connecticut waters of Long Island Sound, to have, before application a certain number of passages on ocean-going vessels of at least 4,000 gross tons during the 36 months through the port or waterway for which the applicant is seeking the license.

The bill adds an alternative “extension of route” in which a license applicant already licensed by DOT for eastern Long Island Sound and at least one of the ports of Bridgeport, New Haven, or New London may obtain a license for state waters, including the Connecticut waters of the Sound.

In such a case, the applicant (1) must have obtained a federal first class pilot's license of unlimited tonnage issued by the U.S. Coast Guard covering Connecticut waters, including the Sound, for which the individual has applied for an extension of route, and (2) can document that, within the 36 months immediately preceding his or her application, the applicant has made six round trips through the port or waterway for which he or she is applying. He or she must have done so as an observing pilot on vessels under enrollment or register subject to state compulsory pilotage laws, during which time the applicant piloted the vessel under the supervision and authority of a state-licensed pilot. It also makes conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

169 — AMTRAK OVERPASS

The bill requires DOT to take all necessary steps to cover a deteriorated Amtrak overpass in West Hartford. These steps must include, on the overpass' east side, designing, building, and installing an overhead sign spanning Rt. 529, New Britain Avenue, and covering the overpass.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

170 — COMMUTER RAIL BRANCH LINES

The bill requires DOT to continue planning to improve the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury branch rail lines, including upgrading and electrifying them. The department must report by January 6, 2017 to the Transportation Committee on its progress and provide updates to the committee at its request.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

171 — STATE RAIL LINE STUDY

The bill requires the commissioner to study options for the operation of state rail lines. He must report to the Transportation Committee on his findings by January 1, 2017.

The study must include researching rail line operators and contacting the contracting agencies that employ the rail line operators.

For rail line operators, including Metro North, the study must ascertain, for each company:

1. its experience in rail line operation;

2. the terms of the contracts under which it operates, and the mechanisms used to enforce the contract terms;

3. performance standards for quality of service and safety; and

4. its experience working with other stakeholders in responding promptly and effectively to concerns about rail line operations.

For contracting agencies, the commissioner must ascertain (1) “lessons learned,” (2) best practices, and (3) a summary of the governance and structure of the rail lines subject to the contracts.

The study also must consider (1) procurement models, (2) schedules for, and (3) costs involved in, a competitive procurement of one or more contracts to operate state rail lines. And it must consider the feasibility of such procurement models, and the legal and labor issues involved.

The bill requires the commissioner to conduct the study in a way that does not interfere with commuter rail service procurements that DOT is conducting, including finding an operator for the Hartford line.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

172-197 — BRIDGE AND ROAD NAMING

The bill designates:

172. Route 272 in Torrington from the intersection of Route 4 north to the intersection of Hodges Hill Road the "Richard W. Nardine Memorial Highway."

173. Route 173 in Newington from the intersection of Richard Street north to the intersection of Route 174 the "Robert J. Seiler Memorial Highway."

174. Route 106 in Wilton from the New Canaan-Wilton town line east to the intersection of Route 53 the "Air Force First Lieutenant Charles M. Baffo Memorial Highway."

175. The access driveway to the DOT's Colchester Repair and Electrical Facility located at 80 New London Road the "Lisa Maynard Memorial Access Road."

176. Route 63 in Watertown from the intersection of Bunker Hill Road north to the intersection of Route 6 the "Guy E. Buzzannco Memorial Highway."

177. Route 35, located in Ridgefield, generally north from the intersection of Limestone Road to the intersection with Route 7 the "Maurice Sendak Memorial Highway."

178. Route 160 in Rocky Hill from the intersection of Route 3 east to the intersection of Gilbert Avenue the "James Vicino Memorial Highway."

179. Route 127, East Main Street, in Bridgeport, from the intersection of Route 130 north to the intersection of Route 1 the "65th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 'The Borinqueneers' Memorial Highway."

180. Route 196 from Route 66 to Main Street in East Hampton the "Russell Oakes Memorial Highway."

181. Bridge number 00649 on I-84 west passing over Route 10 in Southington the "Lieutenant Michael J. Shanley Memorial Bridge."

182. Bridge number 05349 on Route 82 east over the Yantic River in Norwich the "Benjamin Demond Memorial Bridge."

183. Bridge number 0429 on Route 4 in Farmington passing over the Farmington River the "Albert M. Glenn Memorial Bridge."

184. Bridge number 00049 on I-95 over Richards Avenue in Norwalk the "Army Specialist David R. Fahey, Jr. Memorial Bridge."

185. Route 243 in Woodbridge the "Joseph Anastasio Memorial Highway."

186. Bridge number 00638 in Middletown the "Major General Maurice Rose Memorial Bridge."

187. Route 1 Mianus River Bridge between the Cos Cob and Riverside sections of Greenwich the "Honorable David N. Theis Memorial Bridge."

188. Route 138 in Lisbon the "Aaron Dwight Stevens Memorial Highway."

189. Bridge 01752 on I-84 west in West Hartford, the “Lt. Col. George W. Tule Memorial Bridge.”

190. Rt. 194 north from U.S. 5 to Troy Road in South Windsor, the “Thomas F. Howe Memorial Highway.”

191. Rt. 10 north from Bartlem Park to the Cheshire Police Station in Cheshire, the “Medal of Honor” Highway.

192. Rt. 83 from Howe Street north to the Glastonbury-Manchester town line in Glastonbury, the “Thomas P. Sheridan Memorial Highway.”

193. Bridge 00488 on Rt. 66 in Windham, the “James Carey DeVivo Memorial Bridge.”

194. The bill requires DOT to attach, to existing signs at exit 21 east and west on I-84 in Waterbury, or another nearby location it determines, indicating the location of a monument honoring Father Michael J. McGivney.

195. The bill renames the "Major Raoul Lufbery Highway" as the "Major Gervais Raoul Lufbery Memorial Highway.

196. The bill designates Bridge number 3372 A and B on I-84 in Hartford the “Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Bridge,” and repeals a law naming a portion of I-84 the "Tuskegee Airmen Highway.”

197. The bill renames the “John A. Dolan Memorial Bridge” as the “Trooper John A. Dolan Memorial Bridge.”

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

198 & 209 — DRIVER TRAINING FOR PEOPLE WITH MEDICALLY WITHDRAWN LICENSES

The bill authorizes the DMV commissioner to allow people whose license has been withdrawn for medical reasons to drive while being trained by a licensed driving instructor or while taking a road test with a motor vehicle testing agent. In order to do so, the commissioner, after a hearing, must determine that the affected person does not have a health problem that inhibits his or her ability to drive safely and require the person to pass a road test to have his or her license reinstated.

The bill also allows the commissioner to permit people who have had their licenses withdrawn because of a physical or mental disability to drive with an instructor for the Department of Rehabilitation Services' (DORS) driver training program. By law, a person with disability that does not make them incapable of driving may receive training under the DORS program, including training with adaptive equipment. After a person successfully completes the program, the DMV commissioner may waive the road test and issue a driver's license with any restrictions recommended by DORS.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

199 & 214 — ELIMINATING OBSOLETE STAMP PROVISIONS

The bill eliminates obsolete provisions that require an official stamp issued by the DMV commissioner for a 60-day temporary registration transfer (1) by a person or firm between one vehicle used in connection with the business to another and (2) by a dealer transferring a buyer's current registration to the vehicle it sells to the buyer.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

200, 202, & 205 — TEHNICAL AND CONFORMING CHANGES TO MOTOR VEHICLE STATUTES

The bill makes several technical and conforming changes to the motor vehicle statutes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

201 — ISSUING AND RENEWING LICENSES

Under the bill, the DMV commissioner may issue or renew any license, permit, or identity card by any method he deems secure and efficient. These methods may include producing these documents at a centralized location and mailing them to an applicant. The bill specifically allows the commissioner to issue temporary licenses, permits, and cards to an applicant to use until he or she receives the permanent one in the mail. Under the bill, these temporary documents are valid for 30 days or until the applicant receives the permanent one, whichever is earlier.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

203, 204, & 206 — CONFORMING STATE CDL LAW TO FEDERAL LAW

Under federal law, state CDL laws must be consistent with federal regulations. The bill conforms state law to federal regulations regarding self-certification of commerce type and medical certification (49 CFR 383.71 (b) and 391.41).

Self-Certification

The bill requires first-time CDL and commercial instruction permit applicants and CDL holders applying for renewal to self-certify the type of commerce in which they expect to or currently engage (i.e., non-excepted interstate, excepted interstate, non-excepted intrastate, or excepted intrastate) (see below). The DMV commissioner cannot issue or renew a CDL to anyone that does not make the certification, and must downgrade a CDL to Class D operator's license within 60 days of a CDL holder's failure to self- certify.

Medical Examiner's Certificate

In conformity with federal law, the bill also requires that medical examiner's certificates be completed by a federally-certified medical examiner that is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Under previous federal law, a CDL applicant or holder could have any licensed medical professional complete the required certificate.

By law, CDL and instruction permit applicants must submit a copy of a medical examiner's certificate, prepared by a federally-certified medical examiner, indicating that he or she is medically certified to drive a commercial vehicle. CDL holders must submit a new medical certificate every 24 months, or a shorter time period if indicated by the medical examiner on the CDL holder's previous certificate.

By law, DMV is prohibited from issuing a license or instruction permit to anyone who has not submitted a medical examiner's certificate. If a CDL or instruction permit holder does not submit a certificate within the required timeframe, the bill requires the commissioner to, within 60 days of the date the holder becomes uncertified, downgrade the CDL to a Class D operator's license or cancel the instruction permit.

For CDL applicants and holders that have submitted a medical certificate and self-certified as engaging in non-excepted interstate commerce, the bill requires the commissioner to post a medical certification status of “certified” on the Commercial Driver's License Information System for the applicant or holder.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

CDL Self-Certification

Federal law requires CDL applicants and holders to self-certify the type of commerce in which they currently or plan to engage (49 CFR 383.71). The four types of commerce are:

1. Non-excepted interstate, meaning a operates interstate and is subject to all requirements under 49 CFR 391;

2. Excepted interstate, meaning a person operates interstate but engages exclusively in operations exempt from all or parts of 49 CFR 391 (e.g., state or federal transportation and certain school bus operations);

3. Non-excepted intrastate, meaning a person operates only intrastate and is subject to state driver qualification requirements; and

4. Excepted intrastate, meaning a person engages exclusively in operations excepted from state driver qualifications.

207 & 208 — MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR'S LICENSE MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD

By law, the Motor Vehicle Operator's License Medical Advisory Board advises the DMV commissioner on the medical aspects and concerns of licensing motor vehicle operators. The bill allows physicians assistants (PAs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to (1) serve on the board and (2) complete physicals and medical reports requested by the board for the purposes of licensing decisions. Under current law, only physicians and optometrists may perform these functions. The bill also allows such physicals and medical reports to be completed by medical professional licensed outside of Connecticut.

Under current law, the Connecticut State Medical Society and the Connecticut Association of Optometrists submit nominees from the specialties the law requires to serve on the board, and the commissioner selects board members from the nominees. Under the bill, professional medical associations that have PA or APRN members may also make such recommendations. The bill also adds occupational medicine to the list of specialties required on the board. Under the bill, the board must meet at least annually, instead of at least twice a year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

210 — HEAVY DUTY TRAILER REGISTRATION FEE

The bill eliminates a separate method for determining the weight for the registration fee of a tractor limited to pulling a heavy duty trailer. Under the bill, registration fees for tractors that pull heavy duty trailers will be determined in the same manner as the fees for all other tractors.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

211-213 — CLARIFYING ADMINISTRATIVE FEES

The bill clarifies that hearing transcript fees apply only to those transcribed by DMV. It also specifies that administrative fees apply to dealers and repairers that fail to provide proof of bond renewal or replacement or insurance renewal or replacement. Current law imposes the fee on those dealers and repairers that fail to continuously maintain bond and insurance requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

215 & 216 — FLASHING LIGHTS STATUTES REVISION

The bill revises and reorganizes the statutes regarding the use of colored and flashing lights. Nearly all the changes are technical, but the bill makes the following substantive changes:

1. eliminates obsolete provisions referring to purple lights and green lights for interstate public service vehicles;

2. eliminates a provision permitting commercial motor vehicles to use green identification lights;

3. eliminates a requirement that blue and green flashing light permits, which are issued by the chief executive officer of a volunteer fire or ambulance department, be filed with DMV; and

4. allows student transportation vehicles accommodating students with disabilities to use flashing lights in a colors other than red when discharging passengers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

217 — ELIMINATING OBSOLETE PROVISION REGARDING SEIZING REGISTRATIONS AND LICENSE PLATES

The bill eliminates an obsolete provision requiring the DMV commission to direct a motor vehicle inspector or police officer to seize the registration or license plates of a person whose license or registration was suspended for failing to show proof of financial responsibility.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

218 — ELIMINATING WAITING PERIOD FOR DUPLICATE TITLE

The bill eliminates the requirement that the DMV commissioner wait 15 days before issuing a duplicate certificate of title.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

219 — REGULATIONS REGARDING VEHICLES OPERATING NEAR HORSES

The bill incorporates in statute existing regulations regarding a motorist operating near a horse or equestrian. The regulations (1) require such a motorist to reduce his or her speed or stop to avoid endangering the equestrian or frightening or striking the horse and (2) prohibit a motorist from blowing a horn or causing loud or unusual noise in a manner to startle or frighten the horse. By law, these provisions must be included in DMV's instruction manual for motor vehicle operation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

220 — OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS ON ROADS BY PEOPLE LICENSED OUTSIDE OF CONNECTICUT

This bill permits people with out-of-state driver's licenses to operate a golf cart on roads where such operation is permitted. Current law restricts such operation to people licensed in Connecticut.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

221 — LIMITED LICENSE STUDY

The bill requires the DMV commissioner to review DMV's issuance of limited licenses. By law, the commissioner may issue a license, with any limitations he deems appropriate, to a person with a health condition that could affect his or her ability to drive, provided he or she demonstrates that he or she can drive safely.

Under the bill, the review must (1) consider the criteria used by DMV to issue or renew limited licenses, (2) compile limited license holders' driving record data, and (3) consider whether the limitations imposed ensure the safety of the public while recognizing the needs of limited license holders.

DMV must report the results of the review to the Transportation Committee by February 1, 2016. The report must provide information on the issuance of limited licenses, data on limited license holders' driving records, and any recommended administrative or legislative to changes the process of issuing limited licenses.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

222 — ALLOWING CERTAIN YOUNG DRIVERS TO TRANSPORT PASSENGERS WHEN RETURNING FROM EMERGENCIES

Existing law establishes certain passenger and hour restrictions for 16- and 17- year old licensed drivers. Current law makes an exception for 16- or 17- year old licensees who are active members of an emergency medical services organization or a volunteer ambulance or fire department when they are responding to an emergency. The bill specifies that such 16- or 17- year olds may transport passengers and drive during restricted hours while returning from, in addition to responding to, emergencies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

223 — LICENSE PLATE LOTTERY STUDY

The bill requires DMV to study the feasibility of creating a license plate number lottery program and allowing license plate numbers to be sold at an online auction on DMV's website. DMV must identify and assess (1) options for conducting the lottery and sales, and (2) any associated costs and benefits. It must report its findings and recommendations to the Transportation and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding committees by January 1, 2017.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

224 & 225 — MEDICAL PERMITS FOR PEOPLE WITH SUSPENDED LICENSES

Existing law allows certain people whose licenses have been suspended to apply for special “work” or “education” permits that allow them to drive to and from work or higher education institutions or private occupational schools. Under the bill, individuals may also apply for “medical” permits that allow them to drive to and from ongoing, medically necessary treatment. Individuals may not apply for this permit until DMV adopts regulations specifying the qualifications needed to obtain the permit. It also makes a conforming change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

226 — PENALTY FOR DUMPING SNOW IN HANDICAPPED PARKING SPOTS

The bill prohibits a private parking area owner or lessee or his or her agent from dumping or placing, or allowing someone else to dump or place, accumulated snow in a handicapped parking spot. Violators face a $150 fine for a first violation, and a $250 fine for each subsequent violation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

227 — PUMPING GAS FOR PEOPLE WITH HANDICAPPED WINDSHIELD PLACARDS

Current law requires gasoline retailers to, upon request and for no additional cost, help individuals with a handicapped symbol on their license plate to refuel their vehicles at self-service pumps. The bill specifies that retailers must also provide this service to individuals with removable handicapped windshield placards.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

228 & 236 — SIGNAGE NOT NEEDED TO TOW VEHICLES IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES

PA 15-42, effective October 1, 2015, requires that private commercial property owners or lessees, in order to tow vehicles, post signs indicating that unauthorized vehicles on the property may be towed.

The bill allows, in 228, private commercial property owners or lessees to tow unauthorized vehicles without posting signs warning that the vehicle may be towed if the vehicle is:

1. parked in a handicapped parking space;

2. in an area reserved for emergency vehicles;

3. within 10 feet of a fire hydrant;

4. blocking building access;

5. blocking entry or exit from the property; or

6. left for 48 hours or more.

The bill contains, in 236, similar provisions allowing towing without posting signs in these circumstances, but specifies that only vehicles left in handicapped parking spaces without handicapped license plates or placards may be towed. It is unclear when a private property owner can tow a vehicle left in a handicapped parking space.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage ( 228) and October 1, 2105 ( 236)

229 — REVIEW OF TRANSPORTATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS

The bill requires each local and regional board of education to review the transportation arrangements for their special needs students, both in and out of district, and make appropriate changes to ensure the students' safe transportation. The changes may involve placing school bus monitors or cameras on the vehicles used to transport the students.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

230 — DMV INSPECTORS EXEMPT FROM PROHIBITION ON HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING

Under the bill, sworn DMV inspectors, while performing their official duties, are exempt from the law prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

231 — MEN'S HEALTH LICENSE PLATES

This bill allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue, beginning January 1, 2016 and within available appropriations, “Men's Health” commemorative number plates. The DMV and Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioners must agree on a plate design that enhances public awareness of efforts to treat and cure prostate cancer.

The bill creates a Men's Health account to be used by the DPH commissioner to enhance prostate cancer awareness and support research. It also sets a $60 fee that DMV must charge for the number plates and designates $15 of that fee for DMV's administrative costs related to issuing the plates. DMV must deposit any fees not designated for administrative into the Men's Health account.

The bill prohibits using Men's Health license plates for anything other than official registration marker plates, but allows DMV to reproduce or market the Men's Health plate's image on clothing, recreational equipment, posters, mementos, or other products or programs that the commissioner deems suitable to support the Men's Health account. Any money received from such marketing must be deposited into the account.

Finally, the bill permits the DMV commissioner, in consultation with the DPH commissioner, to adopt regulations establishing standards and procedures for issuing, renewing, and replacing Men's Health number plates.

Men's Health Account

The bill establishes a Men's Health account and requires the DPH commissioner to use the money in the account to (1) enhance public awareness of efforts to treat and cure prostate cancer and (2) support research for prostate cancer treatments. The account must be a separate, nonlapsing account within the General Fund and contain any money legally required to be deposited in the account. The bill also allows the public health commissioner to accept donations to the account and requires any donations received to be deposited into the account.

Fees

The bill requires DMV to charge $60 for Men's Health number plates, of which $45 must be deposited into the Men's Health account and $15 must be deposited into a DMV-controlled account and used to cover the plate's production, issuance, renewal, and replacement costs. DMV may not charge a fee to renew Men's Health number plates or to transfer an existing registration to or from a registration with Men's Health number plates.

Under the bill, Men's Health number plates must have letters and numbers selected by the DMV commissioner, and he may charge a higher fee, in addition to any fees permitted by law, for number plates that: (1) contain the numbers and letters from a previously issued plate; (2) contain letters in place of numbers; and (3) are low number plates.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

232-235 — DMV ONLINE INSURANCE VERIFICATION SYSTEM

The bill requires DMV to establish an online insurance verification system (“system”) in order to:

1. confirm that a vehicle owner or operator obtains and continuously maintains the insurance coverage required by law;

2. provide DMV and insurers with an effective way to comply with the law's provisions on motor vehicles, vehicle highway use, and property and casualty insurance;

3. reduce the number of uninsured motor vehicles in the state.

The system must be available at all times, in the manner prescribed by DMV, to state and local law enforcement and other authorized government agencies for insurance verification purposes. It must generate reports that may be useful to implement the bill's provisions, as determined by the commissioner.

Under the bill, the system must include: (1) vehicle and owner information for all active registrations, provided by DMV, and (2) a record of each active motor vehicle insurance policy, provided by each insurer.

Data Submission

The bill requires each insurer to submit a record of each active motor vehicle insurance policy for vehicles registered or garaged in the state on the date of the submission. For commercial fleet policies, insurers may provide a fleet policy number that covers the vehicles of its insured.

Insurers must submit this data monthly, electronically, on the date and in the format required by DMV. Insurers may submit data more frequently if they choose. The bill also makes conforming changes regarding data submission in the insurance laws.

DMV must, at least monthly, (1) update the system's database with the records provided by insurers, (2) match DMV's vehicle and owner information with the submitted records, and (3) compare all current vehicle registrations with the insurer's records.

Real-time Verification

The bill requires the system to (1) be capable of sending requests to verify motor vehicle insurance using insurer's online web services and (2) allow state and local law enforcement to access the database in real time.

Under the bill, each insurer must create an online web service that is accessible through the system in order to verify a vehicle's insurance in real time. DMV may, at its discretion, develop alternative methods for verifying commercial vehicle policies issued by insurers that write fewer polices than a threshold developed by the motor vehicle commissioner in consultation with the insurance commissioner and insurers.

Information Use and Disclosure

The bill permits DMV to use the information in the system's database to administer and enforce motor vehicle, highway use, and property and casualty insurance laws and impose sanctions permitted under law. It also permits law enforcement officers to access the system to determine whether a vehicle owner or operator has insurance.

Under the bill, all information in the system's database is considered a motor vehicle record and can be disclosed only for purposes authorized by state law and the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act.

Third Party Vendor

The bill allows DMV to contract with a third-party vendor to develop and maintain the system under DMV's direction and management. DMV may do so only if the vendor it contracts with enters into an agreement to protect the confidentiality of the system's contents.

Liability

Under the bill, insurers are not liable for any information they provide to DMV or a vendor, including any erroneous information they may provide or omit in good faith.

Neither DMV nor its vendor is liable to anyone for gathering, managing, or using the information in the system, as long as they do so according to the bill.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

237 — RESTRICTING INSTANCES IN WHICH BOOTING VEHICLES IS PERMITTED

PA 15-42 (1) allows and regulates rendering unauthorized parked vehicles immovable (i.e., “booting”) on private property and (2) expressly permits lending institutions to repossess vehicles by towing them. The bill clarifies that lending institutions may not boot cars in order to repossess them.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

238 — SALES AND USE TAX FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS VEHICLES

The bill eliminates language in PA 15-46 that exempts certain hazardous materials vehicles from the sales and use tax.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

239 — DRIVE-ONLY LICENSES NOT FOR VOTING PURPOSES

The bill clarifies that the back of “drive-only” licenses must contain language stating that the license cannot be used for voting purposes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

240 — SERVING NOTICE OF PARKING FINES BY THE HARFORD PARKING AUTHORITY

By law, municipalities taking part in a Department of Motor Vehicles program to facilitate the payment of parking fines must serve notice of the violation in person to the driver of the vehicle or, if the driver is not present, affix the notice of violation to a conspicuous place on the motor vehicle. The bill allows the Hartford parking authority to meet this service requirement by sending notice of a violation to the vehicle's registered owner by regular or certified mail.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

241-243 — HEALTH SYSTEM PROPERTY

241 — Property Subject to Taxation

The bill generally imposes the property tax on (1) real property that a “health system” acquires on or after October 1, 2015 that is subject to the tax at the time of the acquisition and (2) any personal property related to health care services delivered at the property. It applies to such acquiring health systems that had, for the 2013 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2013), at least $1.5 billion in net patient revenue from facilities located in the state. The bill excludes any real and personal property within such an entity's campus, which by law is the physical area immediately adjacent to a hospital's main buildings and other areas and structures not strictly contiguous to such buildings but within 250 yards of them.

The bill specifies that the real and personal property taxes it imposes are the liabilities of, and must be paid by, the health system, and not a hospital or entity affiliated with it. By law, a “health system” is a (1) parent corporation of one or more hospitals and any entity affiliated with that corporation through ownership, governance, membership, or other means or (2) hospital and any affiliated entity.

The bill's requirement supersedes any property tax statute or special act that exempts from property taxes real or personal property held by or on behalf of health systems. Current law generally exempts hospital and sanatorium property from property taxes (CGS 12-81 (16)).

242 — Validating Tax Treatment of Health System Property

The bill validates, for property tax purposes, the acts and proceedings of a municipality's officers and officials concerning the tax treatment of health system property on the 2014 grand list and prior lists. It requires the municipality to continue to tax or exempt such property, as applicable, in subsequent tax years. In doing so, it supersedes any contrary statute, special act, charter, or ordinance.

243 — Fixed Assessments

Existing law allows a municipality, with its legislative body's approval, to fix the real property tax assessment increase resulting from improvements made to real property used for specified purposes. (Fixing the assessment freezes the property's taxable value for a set period, thus allowing its owner to improve the property without paying taxes on the improvement's value.) The bill expands the types of projects that qualify for the fixed assessments to include property improvements used by or on behalf of health systems.

By law, the period for fixing the assessment depends on the value of the improvements:

1. up to 100% of the increased assessment for up to seven years for projects over $3 million,

2. up to 100% of the increased assessment for up to two years for projects over $500,000, and

3. up to 50% of the increased assessment for up to three years for projects over $10,000.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage; the provision subjecting certain health system property to property taxes is applicable to assessment years beginning on or after October 1, 2015

244 — RESIDENTIAL REAL PROPERTY USED OR INTENDED FOR STUDENT HOUSING

The bill generally subjects to property tax any “residential real property” held by or on behalf of a “private nonprofit institution of higher learning” that is intended for or used as student housing. Under the bill, “residential real property” is any house or building, or portion thereof, rented, leased, or hired out to be occupied as a home or residence for one or more students. The bill excludes dormitories, which it defines as buildings maintained by a private nonprofit institution of higher learning, containing living or sleeping facilities, with at least 20 beds, intended for or used as student housing.

The bill's requirement supersedes any property tax statute or special act that provides a property tax exemption for real or personal property owned by or on behalf of such institutions, except for the statutory provision for college property owned by seven educational institutions (i.e., Connecticut College for Women; Hartford Seminary Foundation; Trinity College; Wesleyan University; Yale College; and Berkeley Divinity School and Sheffield Scientific School, which are part of Yale; CGS 12-81 (8)).

By law, “private, nonprofit institutions of higher learning” are educational institutions or independent colleges or universities that (1) provide instruction beyond the high school level, (2) offer or accept transfer of college-level credit, and (3) are either licensed or accredited by the Office of Higher Education to offer degrees. Independent colleges or universities are nonprofit institutions established in Connecticut that (1) have degree-granting authority and their home campuses here, (2) are not part of the state public higher education system, and (3) do not have the primary function of preparing students for a religious vocation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage and applicable to assessment years beginning on or after October 1, 2015

245 — DISTRICT HEATING SYSTEM INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

The bill requires each gas company to develop a district heating system incentive program to reduce natural gas demand in the state. It defines a “district heating system” as a thermal loop natural gas demand reduction system that (1) is located in a designated area, (2) is designed to capture at least 30 million British Thermal Units of waste heat, and (3) distributes at least 75% of that waste heat to the premises of end use customers located in the system's service area.

Under the bill, each company must submit its plan for an incentive program to the Energy Conservation Management Board and DEEP as part of its statutorily required conservation and load management plan. The board and DEEP have discretion to approve or disprove the plan.

The bill requires a company's incentive program to provide a one-time incentive payment to end use customers who connect to a district heating system for heating purposes on or after March 1, 2016. The payment must be based on the customer's projected natural gas demand reduction during the period the customer commits to using the heating system's services. The projected reduction must be based on the customer's weather adjusted historical usage data from the previous three years. The incentive payment to the customer cannot exceed the incentive payment made for equivalent natural gas demand reductions in the state's conservation and load management plan.

The bill allows a district heating system's owner to charge end use customers a connection charge up to an amount equal to the incentive payment that the customer received. It requires PURA to ensure that the gas company revenue needed to fund the incentive payments is provided through a fully reconciling conservation adjustment mechanism in the company's rates. The revenue to fund the incentives (1) cannot exceed $9 million in total for the program, (2) must be in addition to the revenues authorized to fund the conservation and load management fund, (3) must be spread out over at least a two-year period once they exceed $2 million, and (4) must only be collected from the customers of the gas company in whose service area the district heating system is located.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

246-247 — SURROGATE PARENT PROGRAM

The bill establishes a surrogate parent program administered by the Department of Education (SDE), in consultation with the DCF commissioner. Under the program, the SDE commissioner must appoint a surrogate parent, within available appropriations, for any foster child selected by DCF who resides in DCF's Region 3 (i.e., the Eastern Connecticut service region, principally comprising the Middletown, Norwich, and Willimantic areas). The bill does not specify the criteria DCF will use to select the children.

In this context, a surrogate parent is a person appointed by the SDE commissioner as a child's advocate in the educational decision-making process in place of the child's parents or guardian. By law, surrogate parents are protected by school employee indemnification laws.

The appointed surrogate parent must represent the foster child in the educational decision-making process, provided the child's parent or guardian (1) agrees or fails to object to the surrogate's appointment, (2) receives identical notice as the surrogate parent, and (3) may revoke the surrogate's appointment at any time.

The bill requires the DCF and SDE commissioners, starting by January 1, 2016, to annually report on the surrogate parent program to the Children's and Education committees.

The bill also makes a conforming change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

248-255 — EDUCATION GRANT CAPS

The bill maintains existing caps on certain state education formula grants to school districts and RESCs for two additional fiscal years, through June 30, 2017. The caps require grants to be proportionately reduced if the state budget appropriations do not cover the full amounts required by the statutory formulas. The caps apply to state reimbursements for:

1. health services for private school students (CGS 10-217a);

2. transportation for private school students (CGS 10-281);

3. adult education programs (CGS 10-71);

4. RESC operations (CGS 10-66j);

5. special education costs and excess costs, other than those for state-placed students for whom no financially responsible district can be identified (“no-nexus students”) (CGS 10-76d & 10-76g);

6. excess regular education costs for state-placed children educated by local and regional boards of education (CGS 10-253); and

7. transportation grants (CGS 10-266m).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

256-257 – AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER OPERATING GRANTS

The bill makes operating grants for agricultural science and technology centers (“agriscience centers”), which current law establishes at $3,200 per pupil, to be within available appropriations. It also requires the grants to be used exclusively for the purposes specified by law (i.e., expanding or improving an existing facility or replacing or improving the facility's equipment).

For FYs 16-17, the bill allows a local or regional school board to spend its per-pupil grant increase for its agriscience program even if doing so causes it to exceed the total budgeted amount for education for these fiscal years approved by its municipality or regional school district. It thus temporarily overrides statutes limiting the total amount of local or regional board of education may spend without additional authorization to the total specified in the town's or region's approved budget for the year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

258 – SUPPLEMENTAL OPEN CHOICE TRANSPORTATION GRANTS

The bill (1) expands eligibility for supplemental transportation grants for the statewide interdistrict public school attendance program (“Open Choice”) and (2) authorizes the grants only for FYs 15-17.

By law, the State Department of Education must provide Open Choice transportation grants to local or regional boards of education or regional education service centers (RESCs), within available appropriations, in amounts up to $3,250 per pupil. Current law allows the education commissioner to distribute supplemental grants only to RESCs, if needed, to offset Open Choice transportation costs that exceed the per pupil grant. Under the bill, local or regional boards of education are also eligible for these supplemental transportation grants.

Current law provides ongoing authorization for the grants each fiscal year. The bill specifies the grants are only authorized for FYs 15-17.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

BACKGROUND — Open Choice Program and Transportation

The Open Choice interdistrict attendance program aims to (1) improve academic achievement; (2) reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation; and (3) provide a choice of educational programs for public school students.

By law, SDE must provide grants to local or regional boards of education and RESCs for the reasonable cost of transporting students participating in the Open Choice program. RESCs must provide reasonable transportation services to high school students participating in supervised extracurricular activities (CGS 10-266aa).

259 – PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GRANTS

The bill sets the distribution of the priority school district (PSD) grant appropriation for FY 16 and 17 into three categories, shown in Table 6.

Table 6: Priority School District Grant Funding Distribution

Category

FY 16

FY 17

Priority School Districts

$37,252,757

$38,342,720

Extended School Building Hours

$2,994,752

$2,994,752

School Accountability

$3,499,699

$3,499,699

The PSD program provides grants to districts with significant poverty for (1) early reading programs, (2) summer school, and (3) extended school building hours for enrichment and recreational activities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

260 – YOUTH SERVICE BUREAUS

Under current law, Youth Service Bureau (YSB) grants are limited to the YSBs that were (1) eligible to receive them in FY 07 or (2) that applied by June 30, 2012 after the host town approves the local contribution. The bill also makes YSBs eligible if they applied for a grant during FY 15.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July, 1, 2015

261 — COMMISSIONER'S NETWORK OF SCHOOLS:

Existing law allows the education commissioner to make targeted interventions at low-performing schools that she selects for the network.

The bill increases the number of schools that the commissioner may select for the network by allowing her to select up to (1) 25 schools for the network in a school year, rather than 25 total, and (2) five, instead of two, schools from one district in a single year. It also removes the four-school cap on the number of schools from a single district that may participate in the network at any one time. Under the bill, all selections must be made within available appropriations.

The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

262-264 – BIRTH TO THREE PROGRAM LEAD AGENCY

The bill makes OEC and its commissioner the lead agency for the Birth-to-Three program, which provides early intervention services to families with infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities.

It also requires the OEC commissioner to post notice of intention to adopt or amend regulations governing the collection of fees from early intervention service recipients on the eRegulations system, rather than print the notice in the Connecticut Law Journal. Additionally, it makes several conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

265 & 530 — BIRTH -TO-THREE HEARING TESTS     

The bill establishes an October 1, 2015 deadline for the early childhood commissioner to require, as part of the Birth-to-Three program, that notice of the availability of hearing tests be given to parents and guardians of children receiving program services who are exhibiting delayed speech, language, or hearing development. PA 15-81, which the bill repeals, (1) imposes the same deadline for the Department of Developmental Services to require the notice and (2) contains similar notice and regulatory provisions.

The notice required under the bill may include information on the benefits of, and available financial assistance for, hearing tests for children, as well as available hearing test and treatment resources.

The bill allows the commissioner to adopt implementing regulations.

The Birth-to-Three program is a private, provider-based system that provides services to families with infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities.

EFFECTIVE DATE:  July 1, 2015

266 – PLANNING COMMISSION FOR EDUCATION AND THE STRATEGIC MASTER PLAN FOR THE CONNECTICUT PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM

The bill establishes a Planning Commission for Education to develop and recommend the implementation of a strategic master plan that states a clear vision and mission for developing a sustainable, equitable, and high-quality public education system for Connecticut. The commission is made up of 29 voting members.

The bill requires the commission to issue a preliminary report by April 15, 2016 and the strategic master plan by February 15, 2017. The preliminary report must address the strategic master plan's development and include any legislation and funding recommendations. The strategic master plan must include (1) specific goals and benchmarks for implementation and (2) any legislation and funding recommendations.

All reports are submitted to the Education and Appropriations committees and the governor.

The commission terminates when it submits its master plan or on February 15, 2017, whichever is later.

Planning Commission Membership

Under the bill, the commission has 29 voting members. The bill names the following appointing authorities, the number of appointees, and the qualifications and background that each of the appointees must possess. The bill requires the commission membership to reflect the state's geographic, racial, and ethnic diversity. Table 7 provides the details of each appointment.

Table 7: Commission for Education Voting Members and Appointing Authority

Number of Appointments

Appointing Authority

Qualifications and Background

5

House speaker

a current or former rural school district superintendent

a certified public school teacher currently employed or retired for at least one year

a person with special education knowledge and experience

a person with systems building knowledge and experience

a representative of an organization of boards of education

5

Senate president pro tempore

a current or former superintendent of an urban school district with a charter school and interdistrict magnet school

a certified public school teacher currently employed or retired for at least one year

a person with early childhood education knowledge and experience

a person with civil rights knowledge and experience relating to equity, access, and education quality

a person with adult education knowledge and experience

2

House majority leader

a current or former superintendent of schools for a regional school district and

a public high school student

2

Senate majority leader

a current or former suburban school district superintendent

a parent or guardian of a public school student

2

House minority leader

a statewide business organization representative

a scholar with experience and expertise in the field of pre-K-12 education

2

Senate minority leader

an entrepreneur

a scholar who has experience and expertise in higher education

9

Governor

a certified public school teacher currently employed or retired for at least one year

a parent or guardian of a public school student

a person with civil rights knowledge and experience in equity, access, and education quality

a person with knowledge and experience in academically advanced curriculum development

five additional members who do not have any specified background qualifications

1

Not applicable

Education commissioner

1

Not applicable

Early childhood commissioner

Commission Operations

Under the bill, voting members must elect commission cochairpersons at the commission's first meeting. The bill also specifies that:

1. vacancies must be filled by the appointing authority and

2. members serve without compensation except for necessary expenses incurred in performing their duties.

Advice, Consultants, and Funding. The bill specifies the commission may (1) seek the advice and participation of any person, organization, or state or federal agency it deems necessary; (2) within available appropriations, retain consultants to help carry out its duties; and (3) receive funds from any public or private sources to carry out its activities.

Commission's Duties

The bill requires the commission to:

1. articulate a clear vision and mission for developing a sustainable, equitable, and high-quality public education system that (a) coordinates the components of education reform, (b) clarifies how such components of education reform work together, and (c) provides every child with an educational experience that meets the child's needs, and

2. develop and recommend the implementation of a strategic master plan to carry out the vision and mission.

Master Plan

The bill requires the commission to consider specific issues and to examine and recommend changes to education funding policies in developing the master plan.

Issues. The commission must address:

1. how to better organize the state public education system to streamline various and disparate mandates, initiatives, and reforms that compete with the articulated vision and mission;

2. the way public education utilizes data and supports to inform and improve education in the state;

3. the extent to which the accountability system assesses the most worthy outcomes of public education; and

4. the identification and analysis of the most significant factors that effect and support the most worthy outcomes of public education for all students, including poverty, socioeconomic and racial isolation, language barriers, and parental engagement in a student's education.

In addressing these issues, the bill requires the commission to consider the following:

1. determining what are the most worthy outcomes of public education and what means can achieve them;

2. the extent to which public education prepares students to meet the challenges of work, citizenship, and life after graduation;

3. strategies to develop statewide education leadership goals and to enhance education leadership in conformance with the goals;

4. ways to ensure effective communication and partnership between school districts and the families of children who attend school in the district, with particular focus on diversity;

5. ways to share best practices within public education, including, learning across methodologies, models, and structures of educational excellence;

6. what innovations are necessary to excel in both competitiveness and character;

7. the extent to which public education empowers students and educators to excel, innovate, and build on strengths; and

8. best practices that ensure high quality instruction and promote continuous systemic improvement.

Funding Policies. Under the bill, the commission must also examine and recommend changes to funding policies, practices, and accountability to:

1. align funding policies, practices, and accountability with the strategic master plan;

2. ensure that all school districts receive equitable funding from the state; and

3. determine and recommend measures to promote the adoption of ways in which resources can be most effectively utilized.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

267-288 — DUTIES RELATED TO SPECIAL EDUCATION

The bill creates various duties relating to special education and assigns them to the State Department of Education (SDE), the education commissioner, the Department of Social Services (DSS), regional education service centers (RESCs), the State Board of Education (SBE), the Auditors of Public Accounts, the State Education Resource Center (SERC), and local and regional boards of education.

It requires SDE to:

1. report annually to the Education Committee, beginning FY 16, on the amount of federal funds received under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ( 267);

2. purchase digitized Individualized Education Program (IEP) form software to create, submit, and share digital copies of students' IEPs and provide the software at no cost to local and regional boards of education and the technical high school system ( 272-273);

3. distribute upon request complete and accurate information about special education programs and services offered by the state, local and regional boards of education, RESCs, and other providers to organizations representing or providing services to parents and guardians of children requiring special education services, unless they are prohibited from doing so by state or federal law ( 275); and

4. have memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with various state agencies regarding the provision of special education, health care, and transition services ( 285).

It requires the education commissioner to design a new, user-friendly IEP form with the help of a new IEP Advisory Council ( 270-271).

It requires DSS to conduct a study of the feasibility of compiling an annual report on the amount of federal Medicaid funds it received for special education services ( 268).

It requires each of the six RESCs to:

1. participate in a special education funding working group ( 277);

2. develop their own regional model for providing special education transportation, training, and therapeutic services ( 278);

3. survey the special education services and programs provided in their respective regions to identify the need for enhanced or new services, in consultation with SDE ( 287); and

4. study the feasibility of providing and administering new special education services and programs that are of equal or greater quality than those currently provided in their respective regions by local or regional boards of education or private providers ( 288).

It requires the SERC to:

1. conduct a study of assistive technology (AT) equipment sharing programs in Connecticut and submit its findings and recommendations by January 1, 2016 to the Education Committee ( 274);

2. create a calendar of legitimate special education learning and training opportunities for the public that it receives from advocacy groups, boards of education, RESCs, or other providers ( 276); and

3. conduct a study on the collection, assimilation, and reporting of longitudinal student data related to special education outcomes ( 286).

The bill also:

1. requires SBE to collaborate with other state agencies on special education transition services for students who are graduating from, or aging out of, the public school system ( 269);

2. requires the Auditors of Public Accounts to examine the records and accounts of private providers of special education services ( 281-284);

3. expands special education coursework requirements for teacher certification ( 279); and

4. clarifies and expands parents' and guardians' rights during special education Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings at which their child's IEP is developed, reviewed, or revised ( 280).

SDE Duties

267 – Reporting on Federal IDEA Funds Received. Beginning in FY 16, the bill requires SDE to annually report on federal IDEA funds, including:

1. the total amount of (a) federal funds received under IDEA, (b) these funds paid by SDE to local or regional boards of education, and (c) these funds paid by SDE to each individual local or regional board of education and

2. a description of how these federal funds are being spent, including which programs receive these federal funds from the department.

271 – IEP Advisory Council. The bill establishes a 13-member IEP Advisory Council to help the education commissioner develop a new IEP form that is easier for practitioners to use and for parents and students to understand. SDE must provide administrative support to this council. Council members must include:

1. an advocate for parents or guardians of students requiring special education and related services and a special education teacher in a public school who is a member of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut, both appointed by the House speaker;

2. a school superintendent and a representative of the Connecticut State Advisory Committee on Special Education, both appointed by the Senate president pro tempore;

3. a public school principal and public school teacher who is a member of the Connecticut Education Association, both appointed by the House majority leader;

4. an advocate for parents or guardians of children requiring special education and related services and a RESC Alliance representative, both appointed by the Senate majority leader;

5. a director of pupil personnel and a representative of SERC, both appointed by the House minority leader;

6. a Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) representative and an American School for the Deaf representative, both appointed by the Senate minority leader; and

7. the education commissioner or her designee.

The bill also allows the education commissioner to appoint any SDE employee with expertise in special education to serve as a non-voting member of the council. SERC must provide administrative support to the council.

Appointing authorities (1) must make their appointments within 30 days after the bill takes effect and (2) fill any vacancies. Also, the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore must select the council's chairpersons from among its members. The chairpersons must schedule the council's first meeting and hold it within 60 days after the bill's passage.

The council terminates on the date the education commissioner submits the new IEP form to the Education Committee, or January 1, 2017, whichever is later.

270 — IEP Form. The bill requires the newly designed IEP form to include a brief description of the state parent training and information center established under IDEA as well as the center's contact information. SDE's Bureau of Special Education must place this description in a conspicuous place on the first page of the IEP form using at least 12-point Times New Roman font.

Under the bill, the education commissioner must submit the new IEP form to the Education Committee by January 1, 2017.

272 & 273 — Digital IEP Form Software. The bill requires SDE purchase digitized IEP form software to create, submit, and share digital copies of students' IEPs and related documents and provide the software at no cost to local and regional boards of education and the technical high school system.

By October 1, 2015, SDE must issue a request for proposals (RFP) to eligible software companies for the purchase of the software. The RFP must require that the software meet the following criteria:

1. allow authorized users to create and submit a complete digital copy of a student's IEP and related documents to the portal and share it with (a) SDE for purposes of a remote audit and (b) a board of education or the technical high school system responsible for a transfer student;

2. provide 24-hour access for an unlimited number of authorized users to use the software;

3. provide an electronic catalog of goals and objectives aligned with SBE curriculum standards;

4. allow boards of education and the technical high school system to purchase additional programs to supplement the software; and

5. protect a student's IEP and related documents that are created, submitted, and shared using the software from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure in accordance with current industry standards.

When evaluating the RFP responses, SDE must consider the types of software currently used and successfully implemented by boards of education and the technical high school system. If the RFP responses yield software proposals that do not satisfy the RFP requirements or have a cost that exceeds the amount appropriated to the department for the software purchase, SDE is not required to buy any software. Instead, SDE must study the feasibility of creating and administering its own digital IEP form software for boards of education and technical high schools to use. The department must submit this report, if warranted, to the Education Committee by April 1, 2016.

If SDE chooses to purchase a program from among the RFP responses, it must distribute the associated software at no cost to the following recipients:

1. for the 2016-17 school year, to 50% of the state's local and regional boards of education and 50% of the technical high schools under the state's technical high school system and

2. for the 2017-18 school year, to the remaining local and regional boards of education and technical high schools under the state's technical high school system.

Boards of education and technical high school system schools must use the SDE-provided software, unless the board or system is bound by an agreement with a software company that predates SDE's provision of the software. In that event, bill requires the board or system to use the SDE-provided software after the prior agreement expires.

285 — Interagency MOUs. The bill requires SDE to enter into MOUs with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), Office of Early Childhood, Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Children and Families, DSS, and Department of Correction about providing special education, health care, and transition services. The MOUs must (1) account for current programs and services, (2) utilize best practices, and (3) be updated or renewed at least every five years.

It also allows the above agencies, other than SDE, to enter into MOUs with each other as necessary for the same purpose. The MOUs must meet the same criteria listed above.

DSS Duties

268 – Feasibility Study on Medicaid Fund Report. Also, the bill requires DSS to study the feasibility of compiling an annual report on Medicaid funds received for special education services. The study must examine how DSS would include the following components in an annual report:

1. the total amount of (a) federal funds received through the Medicaid School Based Child Health Program for special education and related services, (b) these funds paid by DSS to fund these services, and (c) these funds DSS paid to each provider of these services and

2. a description of how these funds are being spent, including which programs receive these funds from DSS.

The bill requires DSS to submit the study to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016.

RESC Duties

277 – Special Education Funding Working Group. The bill establishes a 14-member RESC special education funding working group to:

1. study the funding provided to and expenditures of RESCs for providing special education services, including the sources of these funds and the ways in which RESCs use them to provide such services and

2. make recommendations on how RESCs can access additional special education funding and use them more efficiently and in ways that expand provision of special education services, such as transportation, training, and therapeutic services.

RESC Alliance must provide administrative support to the working group. The working group must consist of:

1. a member of the Appropriations Committee and a representative from the Capitol Region Education Council, both appointed by the House speaker;

2. a town, city, or borough chief executive officer and a representative from the Area Cooperative Educational Services, both appointed by the Senate president pro tempore;

3. a director of pupil personnel and a representative from Education Connection, both appointed by House majority leader;

4. a school superintendent and a representative from LEARN, both appointed by the Senate majority leader;

5. a representative from the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials and a representative from EASTCONN, both appointed by the House minority leader;

6. a representative from CABE and from Cooperative Educational Services, both appointed by the Senate minority leader;

7. the Office of Policy and Management Secretary or his designee; and

8. the education commissioner or her designee.

The bill requires appointing authorities to (1) make their appointments within 30 days after the bill's passage and (2) fill any vacancies. The House speaker and Senate president pro tempore must jointly select one of the working group's chairpersons from among its members; the education commissioner or her designee must serve as the second chairperson. The chairpersons must schedule the working group's first meeting and hold it within 60 days after the bill's passage.

By July 1, 2016, the working group must report to the Education and Appropriation committees on its findings and recommendations. The group must terminate on the day it submits the report or July 1, 2016, whichever is later.

278 – Regional Model for Special Education Services. The bill requires each RESC, in consultation with SDE, to develop its own regional model for providing special education transportation, training, and therapeutic services to be used for all school districts that the RESC serves. Each model must take into account the least restrictive environment for students receiving special education and related services and include a:

1. regional transportation plan, developed in consultation with public transit districts, that provides transportation to children requiring special education and related services;

2. regional educator training plan that provides special education training to teachers, school paraprofessionals, and administrators that includes (a) instruction on classroom techniques to improve the provision of special education services to children and (b) the implementation of scientific research-based interventions;

3. regional plan for providing therapeutic services, including speech, physical, and occupational therapies; and

4. plan for providing transportation, training, and therapeutic services in a manner that makes them readily available to each school district the RESC serves, rather than by a school district's request.

By October 1, 2016, each RESC must submit its model to SBE and the Education Committee.

287 – Survey of Special Education Services and Programs. By July 1, 2016, the bill requires each RESC, in consultation with SDE, to survey the special education services and programs provided in its respective region to identify the need for enhanced or new services and programs. The survey must include:

1. an inventory of special education services and programs provided to public school students by local and regional boards of education and private providers,

2. the number of students receiving special education services or in special education programs provided by a local or regional board of education or private provider,

3. the total cost incurred by each school district for all such special education services and programs, and

4. the cost incurred by each school district for each special education service and program.

Each RESC must develop and maintain its own survey procedure and may conduct subsequent surveys as needed.

288 – New Service and Program Feasibility Study. The bill requires each RESC to study the feasibility of providing and administering new special education services and programs that are of equal or greater quality than those currently provided in their respective regions by local or regional boards of education or private providers. The study must:

1. identify new and current special education services and programs provided by the RESC;

2. take into account the (a) least restrictive environment for students receiving special education services and (b) areas of need identified in the survey of special education services and programs described above;

3. consider the infrastructure, planning, personnel, funding, and additional needs required to initiate and maintain special education services and programs provided by the RESC; and

4. include (a) recommendations for sites for future special education services and programs provided by the RESC and (b) a timeline for their implementation.

By October 1, 2016, each RESC must submit its feasibility study to SBE and the Education and Appropriation committees.

269 — SBE Duties

The bill requires SBE, in collaboration with BRS, DDS, and the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, to:

1. coordinate the provision of transition resources, services, and programs to children requiring special education services;

2. create, and update as necessary, a fact sheet that lists and briefly describes the state agencies that provide transition resources, services, and programs;

3. disseminate the fact sheet to local and regional boards of education for distribution to parents, teachers, administrators, and boards of education; and

4. annually collect information about transition resources, services, and programs provided by other state agencies, and make it available to parents, teachers, administrators, and boards of education.

Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, SBE must annually distribute the above information to each local or regional board of education for annual distribution to the parent of a child requesting special education services in grades six to 12 at a PPT meeting for the child. A parent includes the (1) child's parent or guardian requesting special education services, (2) surrogate parent, or (3) pupil, if he or she is 18 years old or is an emancipated minor.

SERC Duties

274 – AT Equipment Sharing Program Study. The bill requires SERC to conduct a study about AT equipment sharing programs that must examine:

1. the effectiveness of existing AT equipment sharing programs in Connecticut,

2. whether local and regional boards of education have access to at least one of these programs, and

3. how to create a plan to make these programs available to those that lack access to them.

SERC must submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016.

276 – Special Education Learning and Training Calendar. The bill requires SERC to accept notices of special education learning and training opportunities from special education advocacy groups, local and regional boards of education, RESCs, and other providers in order to make a public calendar. The bill allows SERC to post the calendar on its website and use its discretion to exclude from the calendar any event it determines is not a legitimate learning or training opportunity for the public.

It also (1) allows the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center to reproduce and share the calendar and (2) requires SDE to post a link to it in a conspicuous location on the department's website.

286 – Longitudinal Student Data Study. The bill requires SERC to study the collection, assimilation, and reporting of longitudinal student data related to special education outcomes. The study must examine the feasibility of:

1. expanding the Preschool through 20 Workforce Information Network (P20 WIN) (see BACKGROUND) to include DDS and BRS participation and

2. using the network to create an annual report containing data on students who received special education and have exited the public school system, including data related to subsequent employment and participation in state programs, at regular intervals over a ten-year period following such students' exit from the public school system.

The study must also project the costs related to such annual report and expanding P20 WIN to include these additional agencies.

SERC must submit study findings to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016.

281–284 — Auditors of Public Accounts Duties

The bill requires the Auditors of Public Accounts (“the auditors”) to examine the records and accounts of certain private providers of special education services. The bill defines a private provider as any private school, agency, or institution, including a group home, that receives any state or local funds to provide special education services to any student with an IEP or individual services plan written by the student's local or regional board of education.

281 — Audit Purpose. Under the bill, the auditors must act as an agent of the local or regional board of education while conducting an audit to examine a private provider's records and accounts if the provider: (1) has entered into an agreement with a local or regional board of education or (2) receives any state or local funds to provide special education and related services, in connection with any grant made by any state agency under state law or any public or special act. The examination must include a compliance audit of whether the private provider expended these state or local funds for allowable costs in accordance with (1) state and federal law and (2) the IEP program or individual services plan for each child receiving special education and related services from the provider.

281 — Audit Frequency. The bill requires the auditors to examine these private providers' records and accounts at least once every seven years; however, no provider may be examined more than once in a five-year period, unless the auditors found a problem.

It also requires, as much as practical, the audits conducted in one year to be approximately evenly split among SDE- approved and –non-approved private providers. Additionally, the auditors must prioritize auditing, as much as practical, those providers that:

1. receive the greatest total amount of state or local funds to provide special education services,

2. provide these services to the highest number of students who have individual service plans from a local or regional board of education, and

3. have the highest proportion of state and local funds for the provision of these services in relation to their total operational expenses.

Under the bill, the auditors may consult SDE during the course of an audit and share any preliminary findings with the department.

281 — Audit Findings. The auditors must report their findings to (1) the local or regional board of education that contracted with the private provider or completed an IEP or individual services plan for a student, (2) the education commissioner, and (3) the Education Committee.

282 – Audit Cooperation from Boards of Education. The bill requires each local and regional board of education to annually give the auditors the following information: (1) the number of students under the board's jurisdiction who receive special education and related services from a private provider and (2) the amount of money paid to these providers by the board during the previous fiscal year.

284 – Audit Cooperation from Private Providers. The bill requires providers to submit to these audits and provide access to all records and accounts necessary for the audit.

279 — Teacher Certification Requirements

The bill expands special education coursework requirements for teacher certification beginning July 1, 2016. To obtain an initial educator certificate on and after that date, a person must complete one or more course in special education about classroom techniques in reading, differentiated instruction, social-emotional learning, cultural competencies, and AT. Any person issued an initial certificate before July 1, 2016 does not have to comply with these new requirements.

Current law already requires certificate applicants to complete at least 36 hours of special education coursework on (a) the growth and development of exceptional children, including handicapped and gifted and talented children and children who may require special education and (b) methods for identifying, planning for, and working effectively with special needs children in a regular classroom.

280 — Parental Rights in PPT Meetings

The bill (a) clarifies that parents and guardians have the right to participate in all portions of the PPT meeting at which a child's IEP is developed, reviewed, or revised and (b) specifies that parents and guardians have the right to have the student's assigned school paraprofessional, if the student has one, to be present and participate in all portions of the PPT meeting. It requires boards of education to inform parents and guardians of these rights immediately after identifying a child as needing special education and at each PPT meeting.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

Background — P20 WIN

P20 WIN is a data-sharing system designed to gather student data from SBE and the Board of Regents for Higher Education and workforce data from the Department of Labor to identify:

1. high school indicators that are the best predictors of students' success in college or the workplace,

2. teacher preparation programs that produce graduates whose students have the strongest academic growth, and

3. postsecondary certificates and degrees that lead to significant earning differences.

289-301 — BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

The bill establishes a process under which, if certain criteria are met, a student may receive more than the current maximum of 30 months of bilingual education.

Under current law, each local or regional board of education must limit the time an eligible student spends in a bilingual education program to 30 months (three school years). Under the bill, an eligible student may spend up to an additional 30 months in a bilingual education program if (1) the board of education responsible for educating the student asks the State Department of Education (SDE) for an extension and (2) SDE agrees to the request, using standards the bill requires SDE to develop, that an extension is necessary. In addition, SDE can decide, without a request from a local board, that an extension is necessary using the same standards.

By law, an eligible student is a public school student whose (1) dominant language is not English and (2) proficiency in English is not sufficient to assure equal educational opportunity in the regular school program (CGS 10-17e).

The bill also makes other changes in the laws regarding bilingual education and English language learners (ELL), including requiring:

1. SDE to establish an ELL pilot program for certain school districts with high percentages of ELL students;

2. SDE to develop state mastery examinations in the most common native languages of students eligible for bilingual education;

3. each of the state's six regional education service centers (RESCs) to study the feasibility of the RESC providing and administering new ELL services and bilingual education programs at least equal to those the local or regional boards of education provide; and

4. SDE to annually report on the academic progress of students in bilingual education programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

289 — Language Support Services & Bilingual Students

Under current law, a board of education must provide language-transition support services to any student who does not meet the English mastery standard after 30 months of bilingual education. Under the bill, this requirement would also apply to students who do not meet the English mastery standard at the end of the bilingual extension period the bill creates. The bill also requires the boards to provide academic support services to such students.

Furthermore, under current law, language-transition support may include programs such as English as a second language, sheltered English, English immersion, tutoring, and homework assistance, as long as they are not part of a bilingual program. The bill eliminates tutoring and homework assistance but adds other research-based language development programs.

By law, a school district must meet with the parents or legal guardians of an eligible student to explain the benefits of the district's language program options. The bill specifies that this includes any native language accommodations that it has for Connecticut mastery examinations.

290 — SBE Annual Evaluations of Bilingual Programs

By law, SBE must annually provide grants to school districts that provide bilingual education and it must evaluate the effectiveness of each bilingual education and English as a second language program offered at the district level. The bill for FY 2016 and 2017, places a $1,916,130 appropriation for the grants in statute and deletes the general reference to the appropriation for this purpose.

It also specifies that any amount appropriated in excess of $1,916,130 will be spent in accordance with the bill's provisions addressing creation of the standards for bilingual extension, the ELL pilot program, and the RESC survey.

Under the bill, SDE must distribute, on a pro rata basis, to each local or regional board of education that receives a grant for a bilingual education program, any funds appropriated for such grants that is unused as of November 1.

291 — Teachers of English as a Second Language

The bill mandates that districts unable to hire enough certified bilingual teachers for a school year, must apply to the education commissioner for permission to use certified English as a second language teachers instead. Current law permits, rather than requires, districts to do this. By law, the commissioner may grant a request for good cause.

292 — Study of Rescs and Bilingual Education

The bill requires SDE to study the feasibility of using RESCs to assist boards of education that have low enrollments of bilingual eligible students (presumably this means the number of eligible students in a district does not meet the 20-student threshold that triggers the bilingual education mandate). The study must examine how to provide bilingual education, language transition, and academic support and may include English as second language programs, sheltered English programs, English immersion programs, or other research-based language development programs related to ELL students.

Under the bill, SDE must report its findings and recommendations to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016.

293 — Standards for Determining a Bilingual Extension

By July 1, 2016, the bill requires SDE, in consultation with public higher education institutions, bilingual education programming experts, and bilingual education teachers, to develop standards for determining whether an extension of is necessary for a student who has already received 30 months of bilingual education.

294 — Language Acquisition Information for Parents

The bill sets a July 1, 2016 deadline for SDE to give boards of education information on (1) research-based best practices on how to involve eligible students' parents and legal guardians in the language acquisition process and (2) native language accommodations regarding state-wide mastery exams.

295 — Language Acquisition and In-Service Training

The bills expands the programs that SBE, within available appropriations using available material, must assist and encourage local and regional boards of education to include as part of their in-service training programs that must be provided to teachers. The bill adds second language acquisition, including language development and culturally responsive pedagogy.

296 — Annual Report on Academic Progress of Bilingual Education Students

The bill requires SDE to annually collect and disaggregate student mastery examination data for students in bilingual education programs to monitor (1) their academic progress and (2) the quality of bilingual education programs offered by local and regional boards of education. By July 1, 2016, and annually afterwards, SDE must submit a report on its findings regarding the data to the Education Committee.

297 — ELL Pilot Program and Evaluation

The bill requires SDE to establish an ELL pilot program for school districts with high percentages of ELL students for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. The program must be established in consultation with higher education public institutions and language acquisition experts. The RESC that serves the region in which each participant is located must provide administrative support to the participating district to implement the pilot program. (It is not clear how districts can be selected, consultations performed, and the pilot program established between the time the bill passes and school begins this fall.)

SDE must select the following participants for the program:

1. the three school districts with the highest total number of ELL students, and

2. the school district with the highest percentage of ELL students to total student population.

Pilot program participants must develop research-based language acquisition plans for ELL students in consultation with SDE, public institutions of higher education, or language acquisition experts. They must consider such things as the (1) school district or region size, (2) ELL student population characteristics, (3) school district or region geography and demography, and (4) number of bilingual education teachers and the native languages of the student population.

The bill requires SDE to contract with an independent evaluator from an institution of higher education or a professional evaluator with expertise in language acquisition to evaluate the ELL pilot program. The evaluation must be submitted to SDE and the Education Committee by October 1, 2017.

298 — Mastery Examinations and English Language Learners (ELL)

The bill prohibits the state mastery test scores of certain ELL students from being used to calculate the school or district performance indices. Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the students' scores may not be included in the index calculations if the students are identified as ELL, as defined by law, and have been in enrolled in a school in Connecticut or another state for less than 20 school months.

The bill also requires SDE to develop and offer, beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the mastery examinations in the most common native languages of ELL students who are taking the tests and any additional native languages of students when mastery examinations in such native languages are developed and have been approved by U.S. Department of Education.

299 — Alliance District Plans and ELL Students

By law, alliance districts must submit a plan to SDE in order to receive the increase in education cost sharing aid that started in 2013 for alliance districts. The bill expands the list of things that may be included in an alliance district plan by adding provisions for the enhancement of bilingual education programs or other language acquisition services, including participation in the bill's ELL pilot program.

By law, alliance districts are the 30 school districts with the lowest District Performance Index (DPI) scores based on 2013 student mastery test scores (CGS 10-262u).

300 & 301 — RESC Survey and Feasibility Study for Improved ELL Services

The bill requires each of the state's six RESCs to:

1. conduct a survey, by July 1, 2016, of ELL services and bilingual education programs provided in the RESC's region to identify the need for enhanced or new RESC-provided ELL services and bilingual education programs and

2. study the feasibility of providing and administering new ELL services and bilingual education programs at least equal to those the local and regional boards of education currently provide in that region.

The survey must at least include:

1. an inventory of ELL services and bilingual education programs boards of education provide to public school students,

2. the number of students receiving ELL services or enrolled in bilingual education programs provided by a board,

3. each school district's total cost for all ELL services and bilingual education programs and each school district's cost for each service or program.

Each RESC must develop and maintain its own survey procedure and can conduct subsequent surveys as necessary.

The feasibility study must:

1. identify new and current ELL services and bilingual education programs the RESC provides;

2. consider the areas of need identified in the survey conducted pursuant to the bill;

3. consider the infrastructure, planning, personnel, funding, and additional needs required to initiate and maintain RESC-provided ELL services and bilingual education programs; and

4. recommend sites for future ELL services and bilingual education programs the RESC could provide and a timeline to implement the programs.

Under the bill, each RESC must submit the feasibility study, by October 1, 2016, to the SBE and the Education Committee.

302 — HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS TASK FORCE

The bill adds an additional duty to the high school graduation requirements task force created by PA 15-237. It requires the task force to study the feasibility of substituting a student's participation in interscholastic athletics for the physical education credit in order to satisfy the high school graduation requirements.

Under PA 15-237, the task force must also study (1) the alignment of the high school graduation requirement changes with the Common Core State Standards and (2) the feasibility of adding training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation as a high school graduation requirement. Its report is due to the Education Committee on January 1, 2016.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

303 — ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA) WAIVER PROCEDURES

Starting July 1, 2015, the bill requires the education commissioner to comply with the following procedures before submitting an ESEA waiver application to the federal government: (1) notice and comment periods, (2) a legislative hearing and committee approval process, and (3) inclusion of additional materials in the application package.

The bill requires the education commissioner to comply with two notice provisions. First, she must notify the Education Committee if she is considering applying for a federal ESEA waiver when developing the agency budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Second, if the commissioner intends to seek an ESEA waiver, she must publish a notice of this intention in the Connecticut Law Journal, along with a (1) summary of the waiver provisions and (2) description of the comment submission process.

The bill also requires the commissioner to allow for a 15-day written comment submission period prior to submitting the waiver application to the Education Committee. Once the comment period concludes, the commissioner must include all written comments when she submits the waiver application to the committee for approval.

Under the bill, the education commissioner must submit any ESEA waiver application to the Education Committee before submitting it to the federal government. Within 30 days of receiving the application, the committee must hold a public hearing on the application and subsequently inform the commissioner of its recommendations.

Under the bill, the education commissioner must submit the following materials to the federal government along with the ESEA waiver application: (1) any written comments received during the 15-day comment period and (2) the Education Committee's recommendations and any additional written comments received by the committee during the public hearing. The bill requires the committee to send such materials to the education commissioner for inclusion with the application.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

304 — SCHOOL DISTRICTS OF INNOVATION.

This bill creates a process by which local and regional boards of education may obtain waivers from state statutory and regulatory requirements in exchange for demonstrating innovative ideas in place of the requirements (i.e., “innovation waivers”).

The bill requires the education commissioner to establish a process, by September 15, 2015, to invite innovation waiver requests from local and regional boards of education for waivers to statutes in Title 10 of the Connecticut General Statutes or related agency regulations under Title 10. However, it prohibits waiving any federal law requirements and certain state statutes. The commissioner determines the form and manner by which boards must make their requests.

It also instructs the commissioner and State Board of Education (SBE) to review waiver requests and recommend whether the General Assembly should approve them. Waivers are valid for up to two years, and no more than 20 waivers or one-time waiver renewals may be in effect simultaneously.

The bill establishes guidelines for the process of granting and approving innovation waivers and requires participating boards of education and the education commissioner to produce progress reports on the success of the waivers and offer recommendations for legislation based upon their success.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

Innovation Waiver Process

The bill establishes guidelines to establish a process for granting innovation waivers.

Innovation Waiver Requests. Under the bill, the waiver requests must show the following:

1. how the granting of an innovation waiver would stimulate innovation or improve administration of school district operations or student academic performance;

2. that the local or regional board of education can address the intent of the statute or regulation for which an innovation waiver is being sought in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner; and

3. how the granting of an innovation waiver would ensure the protection of sound educational practices, the health and safety of students and school personnel, and equal opportunities for learning.

Waiver of Statutory Requirements. The state statutes that are ineligible for waiver govern:

1. school health and sanitation;

2. state grants to public schools, the Minimum Budget Requirement, and transportation;

3. teacher certification, tenure, and collective bargaining;

4. assessments, remedial assistance, the statewide mastery exam, and reading and literacy;

5. municipalities' obligations to maintain public schools serving grades kindergarten through 12;

6. the required 180-day school year;

7. required courses of study in public schools;

8. special education programs and services;

9. school attendance duties;

10. high school graduation requirements;

11. student support and remedial services;

12. school and district accountability;

13. documentation of students and teachers of racial minorities and students eligible for free or reduced price lunches;

14. racial imbalance correction;

15. student suspension; and

16. transportation of private school students.

Commissioner Review and Recommendations. The bill instructs the commissioner to review the requests and allows her to recommend up to 10 for SBE approval. The commissioner must send SBE a written report containing these innovation waiver requests and their corresponding goals or benchmarks of success.

SBE Review and Recommendations. SBE must then review the commissioner's report and make its own written recommendations for approval or rejection of each waiver request for submission to the General Assembly. SBE must submit these recommendations in report form annually by March 15. The recommendation must explain the reasons for each approval or rejection suggestion. SBE may recommend that a waiver request be:

1. approved if it sufficiently demonstrates (a) how the waiver would stimulate innovation or improve administration of school district operations or student academic performance and (b) that the submitting board can address the statute or regulation for which the waiver is sought in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner or

2. rejected if it (a) is not based on sound educational practices, (b) endangers the health or safety of students or school personnel, or (c) compromises equal opportunities for learning.

General Assembly Approval. Upon receipt of SBE's report, the General Assembly has 30 days to disapprove by joint resolution, in whole or in part, recommendations to approve waiver requests. If the General Assembly fails to act within that time, SBE's recommendations are automatically approved and the education commissioner must grant districts their waiver requests.

Waiver Terms. The bill gives the education commissioner the authority to decide the term of each waiver's validity, up to a maximum of two years. The commissioner must notify boards in writing about whether their requests have been approved or denied.

Waiver Renewals. Under the bill, local or regional boards of education granted waivers have the option to seek a one-time renewal for up to two additional years. The commissioner determines the form and manner of the renewal, but the renewal request must describe how the original innovation waiver's implementation has been successful in achieving the goals and benchmarks that the commissioner established for it. The process for granting a waiver renewal is identical to the process for initial approval.

Waiver Revocation. The bill allows the commissioner to revoke a waiver or waiver renewal if she finds that its implementation (1) is not a sound educational practice, (2) endangers the health and safety of students or school personnel, or (3) compromises equal opportunities for learning.

Progress Reports

Boards of Education. Under the bill, boards of education granted waivers must do the following:

1. submit to SBE (a) annual progress reports about their respective waiver or waiver renewal's implementation and (b) a final report about the results of the waiver or waiver renewal, including whether it has achieved the commissioner's goals and benchmarks by the conclusion of its term;

2. post these results on its website;

3. share these results with other boards upon request; and

4. if the waiver or renewal is successful, provide instruction and training about its implementation to other boards on request.

Education Commissioner. The bill requires the education commissioner to submit an annual report to the General Assembly, beginning March 15, 2018, containing (1) a description of the innovation waiver request invitation process and (2) any recommendations for legislation.

305-308 — WINCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT RECEIVER

The bill requires the education commissioner, by August 1, 2015, to appoint a receiver for the town of Winchester school district. The receiver becomes the chief executive officer of the school district and is vested with the duties, rights, and responsibilities of the board of education.

All contracts and agreements, including collective bargaining agreements, made in the name of the Winchester board of education will be assigned to the receiver, who is deemed the successor in interest. It is unclear whether the board of education maintains any duties or authority while the receiver is in charge.

The receiver does not have authority over (1) the board of advisors the bill creates or (2) the obligation of the town to pay the state back for any special education overpayments. The receiver reports to and serves at the pleasure of the education commissioner and is an employee paid by SDE. The commissioner may give the receiver additional responsibilities that are consistent with the bill's provisions.

Under the bill the receiver is also responsible for:

1. all aspects of school district governance and management;

2. developing the school district budget and delivering it to the town manager in accordance with the Winchester town charter;

3. providing a mechanism for parent, teacher, and community involvement in the schools;

4. supervising and directing the day-to-day operations of the school district and school district staff and employees, including the superintendent and all school administrators;

5. reprimanding, suspending, or terminating staff, employees and administrators consistent with any collective bargaining agreements or employment contracts;

6. reviewing and analyzing the fiscal practices of the school district and implementing improvements to such practices, if necessary;

7. identifying and applying for grants for which the school district may be eligible; and

8. reporting to the commissioner as soon as practicable any evidence of criminal or fraudulent activity discovered.

Required Reports

The receiver must report to the commissioner periodically on its activities, the school district's financial condition, and recommendations on further state involvement in the school district's operations, including changes to the bill's provisions.

The reports must be provided on a schedule and in such form as prescribed by the commissioner. The commissioner must provide copies of all the reports to the State Board of Education (SBE) and the Winchester Board of Education.

Receiver's Term and Staff

The receiver's term expires two years from the date of the receiver's appointment, although the SBE may extend the receiver's term for up to two additional years. The receiver can, with approval from the commissioner, hire up to two other persons to assist him or her in the exercise of the receiver's duties. The additional staff will report to the receiver and be paid by SDE.

Board of Advisors

The bill creates a seven-member board of advisors for the Winchester school district appointed by the education commissioner. The board will provide advice to the receiver on the performance of his or her duties and responsibilities.

At least three of the members of the board must be Winchester residents. Employees of the town of Winchester, the school district or any immediate family may not serve on the board.

Repayment Agreement with the State and Repayment Waiver Process

Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, the commissioner must enter into a repayment agreement with the town of Winchester or the Winchester school district for reimbursement of any state overpayments of special education aid. The agreement applies to state aid provided from FY 2013 to FY 2015.

The agreement must be documented in writing, providing the first payment or adjustment to future SDE payments to the school district must be received or debited, on or before April 30, 2016, and the balance must paid on or before April 30, 2020.

The town of Winchester may apply for a waiver of repayment if it demonstrates (1) significant improvement in the school district's fiscal and financial practices, (2) that structural changes have been made to ensure the school district is properly handling taxpayer funds, and (3) it satisfies other criteria as required by the commissioner. The application must be in a form prescribed by the commissioner.

Any such waiver submitted may be approved only by majority vote of the SBE and upon the recommendation of the commissioner.

Winchester and the Commissioner's Network of Schools

The bill requires that all Winchester public schools be added to the commissioner's network of schools, nothwithstanding the usual statutory inclusion criteria. Winchester public schools must be in the network for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

309 — PERMANENT CAP ON PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GRANTS

The bill permanently caps the state grants to priority school districts to improve educational programs and early reading intervention programs. The cap requires grants to districts to be proportionately reduced if the state budget appropriations do not cover the full amounts required by statute.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

310-325 — MAGNET SCHOOL FUNDING AND SHEFF SETTLEMENT PROVISONS

Magnet School Grants

The bill changes the per-student grant for non-host Sheff interdistrict magnet schools (those operated by Regional Education Service Centers, colleges, and other entities approved by the education commissioner) for FYs 16 and 17 and each following year. Under current law, if the school enrolls less than 60% of its students from Hartford, it receive a per-student grant of $10,443 (enrolling less than 60% from Hartford means the school was successful in recruiting non-Hartford students). The bill creates a second tier with a lower per-student grant when a school fails to attract at least 50% of its student body from Hartford.

The new grant is:

1. $7,900 for half of the total number of non-Hartford students enrolled at the school over 50% of the total enrollment, and

2. $10,443 for all the remaining non-Hartford students at the school.

Statewide Magnet School Plan

The bill sets a new deadline by which the education commissioner must submit a comprehensive statewide plan for interdistrict magnet schools to the Education Committee. PA 15-177 requires the commissioner to submit the plan by October 1, 2016. The bill requires it be sent to the Appropriations Committee in addition to the Education Committee.

By law, the commissioner cannot accept applications for grants to establish new magnet schools outside the Sheff region until this plan is developed. Applications for new magnet schools within the Sheff region (see below) are not subject to this moratorium.

Background: Sheff Region

This region is named after a landmark public school desegregation court case, Sheff v. O'Neill, 238 Conn. 1 (1996). It encompasses Hartford and its surrounding towns: Avon, Bloomfield, Canton, East Granby, East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Manchester, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, South Windsor, Suffield, Vernon, West Hartford, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

Per-Student Operating Grants for Sheff Host Magnets Schools

The bill renews the magnet school operating grant for FYs 16 and 17 for Sheff region host magnet schools at $13,054 for each student from outside the host district.

Ends Annual Renzulli Academy Grant

The bill ends the annual grant, within available appropriations, of up to $250,000 to the Hartford school district for the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy.

Grant Payments and Payment Schedule for Magnet Schools Operated by Independent Colleges or Universities

Under current law, a magnet school that uses a trimester school calendar and is operated by an independent college or university is eligible for the same per-student state magnet school grant, $10,443, as other Sheff magnets. (The Goodwin College Senior Academy magnet school appears to be the only one affected.) The bill changes this by applying the new grant method described above regarding schools with less than 50% of the incoming students from Hartford. It also makes other related changes.

Under current law a student must be enrolled for at least two of three trimesters to receive the grant. Under the bill, the school will be awarded grants for students enrolled at least half-time, as follows:

1. students enrolled for at least two semesters a year make the school eligible for a grant equal to 65% of the grant for a Sheff magnet, or

2. students enrolled for at least one semester a year make the school eligible for a grant equal to 32.5% of the grant for a Sheff magnet.

The bill also changes the payment schedule from the state to the school from three payments a year to two. Under the bill the two payments are: (1) 50% of the grant by September 1, based on estimated enrollment for the first semester on September 1, and (2) the remaining 50% no later than May 1 based on student enrollment for the second semester as of February 1.

The May payment must be adjusted to reflect actual enrollment in the magnet school for those who have been enrolled for at least two semesters of the school year and actual enrollment for students enrolled at the school for only one semester.

Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts & Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science

The bill establishes specific per-student grant levels for two half-time magnet school academies administered by the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC).

For the Greater Hartford Academy of Arts the per-pupil grant is 65% of $7,900 (the standard RESC magnet grant when less than 55% of the students are from a single town). This means the grant will be $5,135 per student. This applies to FY 16 and each following year.

For the Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science the bill phases out per-student magnet school grants over a three-year period. It provides a $6,787 per student grant as follows:

1. FY 16: students in grades 10 to 12, inclusive;

2. FY 17, students in grades 11 and 12;

3. FY18, students in grade 12.

The bill specifies that the math and science academy is not eligible for any additional grants under the magnet school grant law.

Prioritization for Additional Magnet School Seats

Current law permits SDE to limit payment to a magnet school to an amount the school was eligible to receive based on its enrollment level on October 1, 2013. It permits more funding for additional students based on certain priorities. The bill extends this mechanism for FYs 16 and 17 and modifies it.

The law requires SDE to prioritize additional magnet school funding in the following order:

1. increases in enrollment for a school adding planned new grade levels;

2. increases in enrollment for a school moving into a permanent facility for the school year starting July 1, 2014;

3. increases in enrollment for a school to ensure compliance with the state magnet school law's requirements for racial and economic diversity, special curriculum, and at least a half-time educational program; and

4. new enrollments for a new magnet school starting operation on or after July 1, 2014, to help meet the 2013 Sheff stipulation.

The bill adds specificity to the criterion about planned new grade levels. It specifies planned new grade levels are (1) for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, and (2) for the 2014-15 school year and was funded during FY 15. Also, for the permanent facility criterion, the bill specifies that the move must occur during the 2014-15 to 2016-17 school years, inclusive.

Magnet Preschool Tuition

The bill requires, beginning with the 2015-16 school year and for each following year, a RESC operating a preschool magnet school program to charge tuition of up to $4,053 to the parent or guardian of an enrolled student. Also, it prohibits a RESC from charging tuition if the child's family income is at or below 75% of the state median income. It requires SDE, within available appropriations, to be financially responsible for any tuition that is unpaid due to a family being at or below 75% of the state median income.

Under current law (1) a RESC is permitted, but not required, to charge tuition on a sliding scale based on the income of the parent or guardian, and (2) the tuition is capped at the difference between the per student cost to run the preschool program and the amount of per-student state aid the school receives. SDE is financially responsible for unpaid tuition not charged under the sliding scale.

Magnet School Enrollment Notification

Under the bill, within two weeks after a magnet school enrollment lottery, the parent of guardian of a student who will enroll in a magnet school in the following school year, or who has been placed on a waiting list for the magnet school, must give written notice of that enrollment information to the school district where the student lives and is otherwise responsible for educating the student.

Sheff Settlement

The bill makes a number of minor and conforming changes to make the education statutes conform with the new Sheff v. O'Neill stipulation and court order. Sheff is the landmark school desegregation case in which the state Supreme Court ruled that Hartford school children were not being given an equal educational opportunity because of racial and economic segregation. Settlement agreements subsequent to the Sheff decision rely on voluntary desegregation methods with towns in the Sheff region to reduce isolation for Hartford resident minority students.

Cap on Tuition for Sending Districts in Sheff Region

The bill places a cap on the amount of tuition the East Hartford school district must pay to magnet schools if more than 7% of the district's student population attends magnet schools. For any students over the 7% threshold, the district is not responsible for the first $4,400 of tuition. The cap applies to FYs 16 and 17.

Under the bill, SDE, within available appropriations, is financially responsible for any loss of tuition to the magnet school, subject to possible proportionate reductions if the total of the tuition recovery payments exceeds the amount appropriated for that purpose.

School Construction for Three Hartford Schools

The bill provides for a higher school construction state reimbursement, 95% instead of 80%, for new construction, for three Hartford magnet schools:

1. Montessori Magnet at Moylan School,

2. Hartford Prekindergarten Magnet School, and

3. Betances STEM Magnet School.

The bill provides language for the higher reimbursement rate in either of two scenarios, both in FY 16: (1) CREC uses the 95% reimbursement rate to construct the schools on behalf of and under a written agreement with Hartford or (2) Hartford uses the 95% rate and constructs the schools without a partnership with CREC. In either scenario, Hartford is responsible for the local share of the cost and any project costs that are ineligible for state reimbursement.

The agreement between Hartford and CREC, if there is one, must be approved by the education commissioner and outline the roles and responsibilities of the two parties.

Magnet Enrollment Compliance Plan for Noncompliant Schools

The bill permits a magnet school that is not compliant with the racial enrollment requirements for magnet schools and is not assisting the state in the integration goals of the Sheff court decision and consequent stipulation to continue to be eligible for magnet school operating grants if (1) the school submits a compliance plan to the commissioner and (2) the commissioner approve the plan.

Magnet schools are, by law, designed to create racial integration. A school's student body must be at least 25%, but no more than 75%, racial minorities. Furthermore, no school district participating in the magnet school can provide more than 75% of the enrolled students.

EFFECTIVE DATE: